What are the Michelin Stars?
You may have heard of them before: A restaurant ranked with a certain number of Michelin stars, or chefs who have worked at Michelin star restaurants. In fact, one of the ACAC’s own faculty, Chef Kittiya Janthamkham, has worked with 3-Michelin starred chef, Arnaud Donckelle, the youngest person to ever receive the honour.
In the culinary world, Michelin stars are a prestigious and coveted prize, the definition of dining at its finest.
“When your restaurant is awarded a Michelin Star, it is a sign that you’ve succeeded at the highest level as a chef. Two Stars and your restaurant is excellent. Three Stars and your restaurant is worth travelling to.” (Business Insider)
The Michelin Guide has been published for over 100 years. In 1900, Ándre and Édouard Michelin of the Micheline tire company started publishing a small travel guide for France. It included the best places to stop and explore the country. The aim? To encourage French road trippers to get out and drive around their country and ultimately boost ratings and sales for Michelin tires.
The early guides provided lists of hotels, where to fill up with gas, and mechanics who would fix and repair cars and parts. Soon enough, what began in France expanded, and the Michelin Guides were published for other European countries. In 1926, the guide started to include fine dining. Reviewers visited restaurants and used a star system to categorize them. The three-star system that is used today was introduced in 1931.
What the Stars Mean
In 1997, Michelin developed a new category called “Bib Gourmand” which stands for “good cooking at moderate prices.”
Michelin star criteria
No one knows precisely what criteria Michelin uses to determine whether a restaurant should have a 1, 2 or 3-star designation – this is a carefully guarded secret. However, five standards are measured:
- Quality of the ingredients
- Skill in preparation and flavour combinations
- Value for money
- Consistency in the standards of culinary arts
Who are the inspectors?
Inspectors are anonymous and are not allowed to speak with the press. With extensive backgrounds in the culinary arts, and having to pass official Michelin Guide training (which lasts six months), they are well-equipped to judge the world’s restaurants. Over the course of a year, inspectors visit, review and then rank restaurants.
Which countries do Michelin Guides cover?
Today, the Michelin Restaurant Guides are produced for many European countries, New York, Chicago and San Francisco in the US, a select few Asian nations, and Brazil.