The Michelin Guides (French: Guide Michelin [ɡid miʃlɛ̃]) are a series of guide books that have been published by the French tyre company Michelin since 1900. The Guide awards up to three Michelin stars for excellence to a select few restaurants. The acquisition or loss of a star or stars can have dramatic effects on the success of a restaurant. Michelin also publishes the Green Guides, a series of general guides to cities, regions, and countries.

Michelin Guide
CategoriesGastronomy, tourism
FrequencyYearly
FounderÉdouard Michelin
André Michelin
First issue1900; 124 years ago (1900)
CompanyMichelin
CountryFrance
Websiteguide.michelin.com

History edit

 
The first Michelin Guide, published in 1900
 
The 1911 Michelin Guide for the British Isles

In 1900, there were fewer than 3,000 cars on the roads of France. To increase the demand for cars and, accordingly, car tyres, car tyre manufacturers and brothers Édouard and André Michelin published a guide for French motorists, the Michelin Guide.[1] Nearly 35,000 copies of this first, free edition of the guide were distributed. It provided information to motorists, such as maps, tyre repair and replacement instructions, car mechanics listings, hotels, and petrol stations throughout France.

In 1904, the brothers published a guide for Belgium similar to the Michelin Guide.[2] Michelin subsequently introduced guides for Algeria and Tunisia (1907); the Alps and the Rhine (northern Italy, Switzerland, Bavaria, and the Netherlands) (1908); Germany, Spain, and Portugal (1910); the British Isles (1911); and "The Countries of the Sun" (Les Pays du Soleil) (Northern Africa, Southern Italy and Corsica) (1911). In 1909, an English-language version of the guide to France was published.[3]

During World War I, publication of the guide was suspended. After the war, revised editions of the guide continued to be given away until 1920. It is said that André Michelin, whilst visiting a tyre merchant, noticed copies of the guide being used to prop up a workbench. Based on the principle that "man only truly respects what he pays for", Michelin decided to charge a price for the guide, which was about 750 francs or US$2.15 in 1922.[4] They also made several changes, notably listing restaurants by specific categories, adding hotel listings (initially only for Paris), and removing advertisements in the guide.[2] Recognizing the growing popularity of the restaurant section of the guide, the brothers recruited a team of inspectors, who were always anonymous, to visit and review restaurants.[5]

Following the usage of the Murray's and Baedeker guides, the guide began to award stars for fine dining establishments in 1926. Initially, there was only a single star awarded. Then, in 1931, the hierarchy of zero, one, two, and three stars was introduced. Finally, in 1936, the criteria for the rankings were published:[2]

  •   : "A very good restaurant in its category" (Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie)
  •   : "Excellent cooking, worth a detour" (Table excellente, mérite un détour)
  •   : "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey" (Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage).[5]

In 1931 the cover of the guide was changed from blue to red and has remained so in all subsequent editions.[5] During World War II, publication was again suspended. In 1944, at the request of the Allied Forces, the 1939 guide to France was specially reprinted for military use; its maps were judged the best and most up-to-date available. Publication of the annual guide resumed on 16 May 1945, a week after VE Day.[2]

In the early post-war years, the lingering effects of wartime shortages led Michelin to impose an upper limit of two stars; by 1950 the French edition listed 38 establishments judged to meet this standard.[6] The first Michelin Guide for Italy was published in 1956. It awarded no stars in the first edition. In 1974, the first guide to Britain since 1931 was published. Twenty-five stars were awarded.[7]

In 2005, Michelin published its first American guide, covering 500 restaurants in the five boroughs of New York City and 50 hotels in Manhattan. In 2007, a Tokyo Michelin Guide was launched. In the same year, the guide introduced a magazine, Étoile. In 2008, a Hong Kong and Macau volume was added.[2] As of 2013, the guide is published in 14 editions covering 23 countries.[2]

In 2008, German restaurateur Juliane Caspar was appointed the first woman and first non-French national editor-in-chief of the French edition of the guide. She had previously been responsible for the Michelin guides to Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The German newspaper Die Welt commented on the appointment, "In view of the fact German cuisine is regarded as a lethal weapon in most parts of France, this decision is like Mercedes announcing that its new director of product development is a Martian."[8][9]

In 2022 the guide expanded to Canada, covering Toronto and Vancouver.[citation needed]

The guide announced its first list of restaurants in the US state of Florida on 9 June 2022, after striking a deal the year before with tourism boards in the state.[10][11] The guide awarded a single two-star ranking and fourteen one-star rankings, and 29 Bib Gourmands.[12][13]

In late 2022 the guide expanded to Vietnam and Malaysia. By 2023 there were plans to release new US guides for Atlanta and the state of Colorado.[citation needed]

Methods and layout edit

 
Dishes made by Michelin-starred restaurants

Red Guides have historically listed many more restaurants than rival guides, relying on an extensive system of symbols to describe each one in as little as two lines. Reviews of starred restaurants also include two to three culinary specialties. Short summaries (2–3 lines) were added in 2002/2003 to enhance descriptions of many establishments. These summaries are written in the language of the country for which the guide is published (though the Spain and Portugal volume is in Spanish only) but the symbols are the same throughout all editions.[14]

Stars edit

Michelin inspectors (reviewers) visit restaurants anonymously, and they award one, two, or three stars for those considered at least very good:

  •   : "High-quality cooking, worth a stop" (Cuisine de qualité, mérite une halte)
  •   : "Excellent cooking, worth a detour" (Cuisine excellente, mérite un détour)
  •   : "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey" (Une des meilleures cuisine, vaut le voyage).[5]

Inspectors' meals and expenses are paid for by Michelin, never by a restaurant being reviewed:

Michelin has gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain the anonymity of its inspectors. Many of the company's top executives have never met an inspector; inspectors themselves are advised not to disclose their line of work, even to their parents (who might be tempted to boast about it); and, in all the years that it has been putting out the guide, Michelin has refused to allow its inspectors to speak to journalists. The inspectors write reports that are distilled, in annual "stars meetings" at the guide's various national offices, into the ranking of three stars, two stars, or one star—or no stars (establishments that Michelin deems unworthy of a visit are not included in the guide).[15]

The French chef Paul Bocuse, one of the pioneers of nouvelle cuisine in the 1960s, said, "Michelin is the only guide that counts."[16] In France, when the guide is published each year, it sparks a media frenzy which has been compared to that for annual Academy Awards for films.[15] Media and others debate likely winners, speculation is rife, and TV and newspapers discuss which restaurant might lose and which might gain a Michelin star.[17][18][19][20]

The Michelin Guide also awards "Rising Stars", an indication that a restaurant has the potential to qualify for a star, or an additional star.

Green stars edit

 
Green Star

In 2020, the Michelin Guide launched a sustainability emblem to symbolise excellence in sustainable gastronomy.[21] An establishment awarded this green star is given space on the Guide's website for the chef to describe the restaurant's vision.[21]

Bib Gourmand edit

 
Michelin Bib Gourmand

Since 1997,[22] the guide has also highlighted restaurants offering "exceptionally good food at moderate prices", a feature now called "Bib Gourmand". They must offer menu items priced below a maximum determined by local economic standards. Bib (Bibendum) is the company's nickname for the Michelin Man, its corporate logo for over a century.

The Plate edit

In 2016, a new symbol, the Plate, was added to recognize restaurants that "simply serve good food".[23]

Keys, for hotels edit

Michelin plans on awarding "keys" to hotels starting in 2024. Michelin states that the key award will "distinguish exceptional establishments led by teams with unique forms of knowledge" and that awards will be given after stays conducted anonymously by Michelin Guide selection teams.[24][25]

Guides edit

For each country/combination of countries edit

Country/Region[26] Year       Total   Bib Gourmand
& (price cap)
Establishments
France 2023[27] 29 75 526 630 419
(€32, €36 in Paris area)[28]
over 3,222 hotels and guest houses,
2,962 restaurants
Japan 2023[29] 23 82 442 547 492
[30]
1,501 restaurants
Spain and Portugal 2023[31] 13 41 235 289 281
(€35)
1,401 restaurants
Italy 2024[32] 13 40 342 395 257 1,986 restaurants
United States 2023[33] 13 33 177 223 374
($49)[34]
1,509 restaurants
Germany 2023[35] 10 50 274 334 274
(€35)
over 4,200 hotels and guest houses,
2,100 restaurants, 4,287 hotels
Great Britain and Ireland 2024[36] 9 27 170 206 127 1,162 restaurants
Switzerland 2023[37][38] 4 26 108 138 125
(CHF70)[39]
458 hotels and guest houses,
777 restaurants
China 2023[40] 4 16 102 122 106
Nordic countries 2023[41] 4 14 63 81 34 271 restaurants
Belgium and Luxembourg 2023[42][43] 3 22 124 149 147 (€45) 816 restaurants
Singapore 2023[44] 3 6 46 55 79 152 restaurants (>50% are hawker stalls)
Taiwan 2023[45][46] 3 6 35 44 139 321 restaurants
Netherlands 2023[47] 2 20 103 125 98 (€39)[48] 504 restaurants
Austria 2023[49] 1 6 8 15 9 77 restaurants[50]
Slovenia 2023[51] 1 1 7 9 7 59 restaurants
Thailand 2024[52] 0 7 28 35 196 447 restaurants
Hungary 2023[53] 2 7 9 7 75 restaurants
Canada 2023[54] 1 23 24 38 160 restaurants
Argentina 2024[55] 1 6 7 7 71 restaurants
Malaysia 2024[56] 1 4 5 45 77 restaurants
Poland 2023[57] 1 2 3 7 49 restaurants
Estonia 2023[58] 1 1 2 6 34 restaurants
Croatia 2023[59] 0 11 11 14 89 restaurants
Malta 2023[60] 6 6 4 35 restaurants
Vietnam 2023[61] 4 4 29 103 restaurants
Latvia 2024[62] 1 1 3 22 restaurants

Regions and cities edit

City[26] Year       Bib Gourmand
& (price cap)
Establishments
Paris 2023[63] 9 15 106 46 (€35) 488 restaurants[64]
Abu Dhabi 2024[65] 0 0 4 6 46 restaurants
Athens 2023[66] 0 1 11 5 31 restaurants
Atlanta 2023[67] 0 0 5 10 45 restaurants
Beijing 2024[68] 3 2 28 20 105 restaurants
Belgrade 2024[69] 0 0 0 2 22 restaurants
Bodrum 2024[70] 0 0 2 2 19 restaurants
Buenos Aires 2024[55] 0 1 2 7 52 restaurants
Chengdu 2024[71] 0 2 11 20 69 restaurants
Chicago 2023[72] 2 3 16 47 ($40)[73] 400 restaurants[74]
California [Note 1] 2023[75] 6 12 69 143 608 restaurants
Colorado 2023[76] 0 0 5 9 44 restaurants
Dubai 2023[77] 0 3 11 17 90 restaurants
Florida 2023[12] 0 1 18 33 ($49) 144 restaurants
Guangzhou 2023[78] 0 3 16 42 119 restaurants
Hangzhou 2023[79] 0 0 6 12 51 restaurants
Hanoi 2023[61] 0 0 3 13 48 restaurants
Ho Chi Minh City 2023[61] 0 0 1 16 55 restaurants
Hong Kong and Macau 2023[80] 10 18 67 72 250 restaurants
Istanbul 2024[70] 0 1 6 18 77 restaurants
İzmir 2024[70] 0 0 3 6 15 restaurants
Kaohsiung 2023[46] 0 1 2 27 53 restaurants
Kyoto 2023[81] 6 19 73 98 196 restaurants
Kuala Lumpur 2024[56] 0 1 2 20 43 restaurants
Las Vegas (suspended) 2009[82] 1 3 13 127 restaurants, 30 hotels (2007)
London 2023[83] 5 12 57 34 (£28) 347 restaurants, 14 in hotels
Main Cities of Europe 17 March 2010[84] 15 55 271 231 1,715 restaurants, 1,542 hotels
Mendoza 2024[55] 0 0 4 0 19 restaurants
Moscow (suspended)[85] 2021[86] 0 2 7 15
Nara Prefecture 2023[87] 0 4 20 18 88 restaurants
New York City 2023[88] 4 14 53 102 ($49)
Osaka 2023[81] 3 10 81 99 193 restaurants
Penang 2024[56] 0 0 2 25 34 restaurants
Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo 2018[89] 0 3 15 33 (R$ 90)[90]
Salzburg 2023[50] 0 2 3 2 20 restaurants
Seoul 2023[91] 2 8 25 57 (₩ 35,000) 176 restaurants
Shanghai 2024[92] 2 8 41 26 148 restaurants
Taichung 2023[46] 1 0 5 31 64 restaurants
Tainan 2023[46] 0 0 0 36 56 restaurants
Taipei 2023[46] 2 5 28 45 148 restaurants
Toronto 2023[93] 0 1 14 21 83 restaurants
Tokyo 2024[94] 12 33 138 127 504 restaurants
Vancouver 2023[95] 0 0 9 17 77 restaurants
Vienna 2023[50] 1 4 5 7 57 restaurants
Washington, D.C. 2022[96] 1 3 20 36
($40)[97]
182 restaurants

Non-restaurant food edit

In 2014, Michelin introduced a separate listing for gastropubs in Ireland.[98] In 2016, the Michelin Guide for Hong Kong and Macau introduced an overview of notable street-food establishments.[99][100] In the same year, the Singapore guide introduced the first Michelin stars for street-food locations, for Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle.[101]

Other ratings edit

 
Michelin Guide "fork and spoon" red designation at Miodova Restaurant in Kraków, Poland, for 2017 and 2018

All listed restaurants, regardless of their star, Bib Gourmand, or Plate status, also receive a "fork and spoon" designation, as a subjective reflection of the overall comfort and quality of the restaurant.[102] Rankings range from one to five: one fork and spoon represents a "comfortable restaurant" and five signifies a "luxurious restaurant". Forks and spoons colored red designate a restaurant that is considered "pleasant" as well.

Restaurants, independently of their other ratings in the guide, can also receive a number of other symbols next to their listing:

  • Coins indicate restaurants that serve a menu for a certain price or less, depending on the local monetary standard.[102] In 2010 France, 2011 US and Japan Red Guides, the maximum permitted "coin" prices were €19, $25, and ¥5000, respectively.
  • Interesting view or Magnificent view, designated by a black or red symbol, are given to restaurants offering those features.
  • Grapes, a sake set, or a cocktail glass indicate restaurants that offer, at minimum, a "somewhat interesting" selection of wines, sake, or cocktails, respectively.[102]

Green Guides edit

The Michelin Green Guides review and rate attractions other than restaurants. There is a Green Guide for France as a whole, and a more detailed one for each of ten regions within France. Other Green Guides cover many countries, regions, and cities outside France. Many Green Guides are published in several languages. They include background information and an alphabetical section describing points of interest. Like the Red Guides, they use a three-star system for recommending sites, ranging from "worth a trip" to "worth a detour", and "interesting".[citation needed]

Controversies edit

Allegations of lax inspection standards and bias edit

Pascal Rémy, a veteran France-based Michelin inspector, and also a former Gault Millau employee, wrote a tell-all book, L'Inspecteur se met à table (The Inspector Sits Down at the Table), published in 2004. Rémy's employment was terminated in December 2003 when he informed Michelin of his plans to publish his book.[103] He brought a court case for unfair dismissal, which was unsuccessful.[104]

Rémy described the French Michelin inspector's life as lonely, underpaid drudgery, driving around France for weeks on end, dining alone, under intense pressure to file detailed reports on strict deadlines. He maintained that the guide had become lax in its standards. Though Michelin states that its inspectors visited all 4,000 reviewed restaurants in France every 18 months, and all starred restaurants several times a year, Rémy said only about one visit every 3+12 years was possible because there were only 11 inspectors in France when he was hired, rather than the 50 or more hinted by Michelin. That number, he said, had shrunk to five by the time he was fired in December 2003.[103]

Rémy also accused the guide of favouritism. He alleged that Michelin treated famous and influential chefs, such as Paul Bocuse and Alain Ducasse, as "untouchable" and not subject to the same rigorous standards as lesser-known chefs.[103] Michelin denied Rémy's charges, but refused to say how many inspectors it actually employed in France. In response to Rémy's statement that certain three-star chefs were sacrosanct, Michelin said, "There would be little sense in saying a restaurant was worth three stars if it weren't true, if for no other reason than that the customer would write and tell us."[105]

Allegations of prejudice favouring French cuisine edit

Some non-French food critics have alleged that the rating system is biased in favour of French cuisine or French dining standards. The UK The Guardian commented in 1997 that "some people maintain the guide's principal purpose is as a tool of Gallic cultural imperialism".[106] When Michelin published its first New York City Red Guide in 2005 Steven Kurutz of The New York Times noted that Danny Meyer's Union Square Cafe, a restaurant rated highly by The New York Times, Zagat Survey, and other prominent guides, received a no-star rating from Michelin (he did, however, acknowledge that the restaurant received positive mention for its ambiance, and that two other restaurants owned by Meyer received stars). Kurutz also said the guide appeared to favour restaurants that "emphasized formality and presentation" rather than a "casual approach to fine dining". He said over half of the restaurants that received one or two stars "could be considered French".[107] The Michelin Guide New York 2007 included 526 restaurants, compared to 2,014 in Zagat New York 2007; after The Four Seasons Restaurant received no stars in that edition, co-owner Julian Niccolini said Michelin "should stay in France, and they should keep their guide there".[108] The 2007 guide does, however, include menus, recipes, and photographs, and descriptions of the atmosphere of starred restaurants.[108]

Allegations of leniency with stars for Japanese cuisine edit

In 2007, Tokyo's restaurants were awarded with the most stars and in 2010 other Japanese cities like Kyoto and Osaka also received many stars. At the time this sparked questions from some over whether these high ratings were merited for Japanese restaurants, or whether the Michelin Guide was too generous in giving out stars to gain an acceptance with Japanese customers and to enable the tyre-selling parent company to market itself in Japan. But the discrepancy is easily explained by the number of restaurants in total: Tokyo has 160,000 restaurants while Paris, for example, has just 40,000.[109][110] The Wall Street Journal reported in 2010 that some Japanese chefs were surprised at receiving a star and were reluctant to accept one because the publicity caused an unmanageable jump in booking, affecting their ability to serve their traditional customers without compromising on lowering the quality of their dishes.[111]

Unwanted stars edit

Some restaurateurs have asked Michelin to revoke a star, because they felt that it created undesirable customer expectations or pressure to spend more on service and decor.[112] Notable cases include:

  • Casa Julio (Fontanars dels Alforins, Spain): After receiving a star for a perfumed cuisine in 2009, the restaurant chef Julio Biosca felt the award was granted to dishes that he did not like and which restricted his creativity. He tried to remove his star, and in December 2013 he discontinued his tasting menu. The removal took place in the 2015 guide.[113][114]
  • Petersham Nurseries Café (London): After receiving a star in 2011, founder and chef Skye Gyngell received complaints from customers expecting formal dining, leading to her attempt to remove the star, and her subsequent retirement from the restaurant. She has since said she regrets her remarks and would welcome a star.[113][115][116]
  • 't Huis van Lede (Belgium): After receiving a star in 2014, chef Frederick Dhooge said he did not want his Michelin star or his points in the Gault-Millau restaurant guide because some customers were not interested in simple food from a Michelin-starred restaurant.[117]

Losing stars edit

The pressure to retain Michelin stars can be immense, as the loss of a star will almost inevitably have a significant impact on business. It is widely believed that chef Bernard Loiseau committed suicide in 2003 after hearing the rumor that his three-star restaurant, La Côte d'Or, would be demoted to two stars.[118]

Mistakes edit

In 2017, the Bouche à Oreille café in Bourges was accidentally given a star when it was confused with a restaurant of the same name in Boutervilliers, near Paris.[119][120]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Beginning in 2019, Los Angeles and San Francisco areas were no longer separate publications and one guide was issued for the entire state of California.

References edit

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Further reading edit

Published in the 20th century edit

  • Michelin Guide to the British Isles, London: Michelin Tyre Company, 1913, OL 14022740M (+ List of excursions)
  • Amiens before and during the war, Clermont-Ferrand: Michelin and Cie, 1919, OCLC 887914, OL 13521961M
  • Michelin Guide to the Battlefields of the World War, Milltown, N.J.: Michelin, 1919, OL 24432211M
  • Strasbourg (in French), Clermont-Ferrand: Michelin & Cie, 1919, OL 24638163M
  • St. Quentin-Cambrai (in French), Clermont-Ferrand: Michelin & cie, 1921, OL 24786012M

Published in the 21st century edit

  • Trois étoiles au Michelin: Une histoire de la haute gastronomie française et européenne, by Jean-François Mesplède and Alain Ducasse, 2004. ISBN 2-7000-2468-0. Follows the 60-odd chefs who have been awarded three stars.
  • The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine, by Rudolph Chelminski, 2006. ISBN 978-0-14-102193-5. The story of Bernard Loiseau.
  • From behind the wall: Danish Newspaper Berlingske Employee 'Awards'

External links edit