A Michelin Star restaurant anywhere in the world stands for an extraordinary culinary experience with exquisite fare prepared by incredibly skilled chefs, many of who have now become ‘celebrities in their own right’. Not all fine dining establishments have the privilege of being considered for the award of a Michelin Star. It is no secret that the award or loss of a star can have intense consequences on the success of the restaurant or the credibility of a chef.
What is a Michelin Star?
Initiated in 1900 by the brothers, André and Édouard Michelin the first edition of the Michelin Guide was published for French motorists as a guide for tyres and other useful information pertaining to travelling (ie maps), where the nearest petrol station was and of course the nearest places to get something to eat and sleep. By 1926, the guide was revised to lay down the criteria for awarding one, two or three stars to fine dining destinations and today it has spread across the world. The Michelin Guides, also known as Red Guides, award Michelin Stars to selected restaurants on the basis of stringent criteria.
Michelin star restaurants fall into the following categories:
Three Michelin Star restaurants include the London Restaurants The Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea and Alain Ducasse in the Dorchester, Park Lane as well as in Monaco and Paris. Across the world, there are celebrated Michelin Star chefs well known for their amazing preparations and culinary creations. Head Chef Clare Smyth of the Gordon Ramsay restaurant is the first female chef in the UK to hold and retain three Michelin Stars and Jan Hendrik is the first South African chef to receive a Michelin star.
How is a Michelin Star Earned and Retained?
In order to earn a star or to retain an earned star, restaurants have to maintain a high standard of dining throughout the year. Michelin maintains utmost secrecy with respect to the inspectors or Michelin reviewers who assess an establishment. The uniqueness of the Michelin Star grading is that the restaurants never come to know who had reviewed them and when. The Michelin Star is even more coveted due to the fact that there are establishments considered unworthy of a Michelin Star and they are not even visited by the inspectors.
The release of the annual guide creates a furore in the culinary world as media and restaurateurs speculate the loss or gain of a star, and so high is the euphoria that there have been reports of chefs losing their sanity or even committing suicide over the loss of a star.
What other listings are included in the Michelin Guide?
Michelin has now diversified by preparing more specialised lists of restaurants such as the Bib Gourmand listing for highlighting restaurants that offer excellent food at reasonable prices, and listings for gastro pubs and other street food eateries. Deserving restaurants also receive a “fork and spoon” label that reflects the ambience and comfort offered while dining. Restaurants that have the potential or capability of earning a star are awarded Rising Stars. Each Michelin Star restaurant is reviewed in very short summaries that include symbols such as coins, grapes and cocktail glasses to indicate different aspects of dining at the restaurant such as décor, service, ambience and maintenance of surroundings.