How does an establishment earn a michelin star?
The Michelin stars are based on the evaluation of the food, and the food alone (and the value for the price). Not the decor, not the service, not the wine, not the plates, not the glasses, not the cleanliness of the restaurant etc. Food, period.
However the Michelin guide has an additional rating (spoon & forks), which is entirely independent from the star rating, which evaluates everything that's not food related: cleanliness, service, decor, comfort etc...
By the way the Michelin guide has had a huge influence on the food we eat. Keep in mind Michelin is a tire company. They manufacture and sell tires. Some marketing genius at Michelin must have thought of the Michelin guides (hotels and restaurants) as a way to promote tourism and make people travel more so they would ... need to buy more tires. In France, before Michelin guides, food in big "fine dining" restaurants, mostly in Paris or big cities, were kinda standardized, sort of a "French" cuisine, a la Escoffier. The Michelin guide really turned that trend on its head and started promoting small restaurants off the beaten path, in small villages, or lost somewhere in the countryside. That means all of a sudden highly-regional cuisine became trendy. That's what made the richness of modern French cuisine, going into each one of those regions and discovering a myriad of specialties that were previously only known from the inhabitants of that specific region.
One more thing to note, the Michelin star ratings are much more stringent in France than they are anywhere else in the world. So you can expect quite a big difference in quality between a 3 Michelin star in France and a 3 Michelin star in the U.S.
That's a pretty broad-brushed indictment, FF. Could you name some of those so-called biased guides?
KYHeirloomer, what french fries said is correct. An example of a biased guide is Gault Millau. There are some amazing restaurants out there that will never be known because they don't want to continue being rated by these guides, they're biased. For example, with the new trend in cooking called "molecular cooking" which uses techniques gained from experimenting and from molecular gastronomists( almost like food scientists, but not exactly), some people will think, "why does everybody like it so much, just because it's new and there are foams, and gels etc. Well, I think it's stupid, and I'd rather have simple food". People who work for the guide that have that attitude go to make a review and rate a restaurant already with a dislike of it for a small reason. That's one way they can biased. That's not what I'm like, but many of the critics are. They're rude, loud, complain and don't pay, then go write a bad review about the restaurant.
The fact is, every reviewer has biases. If anyone thinks that the Michelin people are not affected by ambiance they're living in a different world than the rest of us. Need proof: Read how White set out specifically to earn his stars by analyzing what the top rated restaurants had in common. What he found was that great food is only one aspect, no matter what the rules may say.
Not to mention the built-in bias that says French food is automatically better, and held to a higher standard, than other countries.
Something else to consider: The majority of legitimate restaurant critics go to great pains to remain anonymous. A typical strategy: They visit the restaurant at least three times, in a party of four, with at least one of those visits being on a Saturday evening. Only after the third meal do they identify themselves and ask to see the kitchen. All meals are paid for.
That's a far cry from how you typify them.
There are some amazing restaurants out there that will never be known because they don't want to continue being rated by these guides,
Did you listen to yourself when you wrote that? Let's see: You're saying that whether or not a restaurant gets included in a guide is the restaurant's choice. And, if they actually had that choice, they would choose to fade into obscurity rather than appear in a guide that could bring them business.
Gimme a break!
I don't agree with your comment. Everything influences everything. I'm sure a Michelin reviewer will also be influenced by the fight he had with his wife this morning, the motorbike that just splashed his jacket, the announce of his mother's cancer, or even the music in the restaurant that triggers the memory of his break up with his high school sweetheart. That does not mean that those factors define a michelin star. Food, and food only defines michelin stars, and how reviewers are or are not influenced by other factors is out of our hands.
Just like I'm sure the comfort of the chairs or the smell in the theater will influence a movie critic's experience when watching a film to review. But that doesn't mean his review evaluates the film, the comfort of the seats in the theater he went, the politeness of the ushers etc... in theory at least, his review evaluates the film, and the film only.
Edited by French Fries - 4/9/10 at 12:40pm
Somebody once said, in theory, theory and reality are the same. In reality, they're not.
The fact is, as White discovered, even though it's not supposed to, ambience does, indeed, play a part in whether, and how many, stars a restaurant receives. That's the reality.
Do you really think the best food in the world, served in a run-down building with wobbling chairs, would be awarded many stars? Or, more realistically, if two places had the same quality of food, but one was everything we think of when the term "fine dining" is used, and the other was a farmhouse restaurant, would they would get the same number of stars? In theory, they should. But, again, the reality is that the "fine dining" restaurant would be perceived by the inspector as a higher class place with better food.
What White did was analyze all the things that multiple-star restaurants had in common. He then reasoned, "if you want to open a place and immediately win two stars, here's what you have to do." He then designed his restaurant using those criteria, and lo! Two Michelin stars.
Could it have only been coincidence that all the two- and three-star restaurants just happened to have that kind of ambience? I think not.
Understand I am not putting a value judgement on this. Just pointing out that no matter how subjective anyone tries to be there are outside influences that help determine a decision. And with restaurants, the quality of the house is one of those influences.
Would you eat at a star rated restaurant in preference to a non-starred restaurant if the non-starred restaurant got lots of good local reviews, and the starred place mainly had the star to recommend it?
I don't know if you've heard of the Fancy Food show in New York, but my parents sell their products there. They can't just leave their kids at home obviously so we got to go to New York. One night, we ate at the Gramercy Tavern. The food was excellent. No michellin stars. Just a really good place to eat dinner at, a few people might know it, it's not famous but it's not unheard of. The point is, you might like a really good restaurant like the gramercery tavern better than a 2 star michellin restaurant. Now, obviously if it's a 3 star place it's really tough to beat.
The MICHELIN Guide uses a system of symbols to identify the best hotels and restaurants within each comfort and price category. For restaurants, Michelin stars are based on five criteria:
- The quality of the products
- The mastery of flavor and cooking
- The "personality" of the cuisine
- The value for the money
- The consistency between visits
Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants offering the finest cooking, regardless of cuisine style. Stars represent only what is on the plate. They do not take into consideration interior decoration, service quality or table settings.
Erm? I lived in Lyon for several years and ate at several Michelin starred restaurants, including one extremely famous three-star restaurant (the famous soup named after the harpagon auvergnat is a fairly abysmal idea; a view I've seen several food writers express), and if anything, standards are lower in France than elsewhere (for example, Tokyo was only recently acknowledged as the world capital of fine dining by Michelin - do you really think that Tokyo suddenly improved or, more likely, that Michelin has just overcome some of its prejudices). I've never been to the USA but from what I've seen, I'd try The French Laundry over aforementioned three-star French restaurant any day of the week. Okay; I don't have any hard evidence, but nor do you.
Edited by NeonMeateDream - 4/10/10 at 1:41pm
They're doing Chicago in 2011.
I have dined at 3 Michelin starred restaurants. One in Napa (The French Laundry) and 2 in Chicago,The Everest Room.and TRU .
Every instance was far and away from the usual dining experience.
Even minute details are not forgotten
In the kitchen at the French Laundry, for example, there are close circuit cameras pointed at the tables in the dining room so the kitchen can watch and see how the tables are getting along and when to serve the next course.
At TRU the wines are opened and decanted before they reach the table.
At the Everest Room, when you leave your seat to use the restroom, your place setting is re-set, napkin refolded or replaced if needed.
Many,but not all of these things are requisite for being upscale and "fine dining." (How ambiguous that word is....)
Food, ambience, and service all make the stars what they are.
In my career, I have never eaten at a restaurant that should have had a Michelin star but didn't.
While I agree that the whole Michelin system is based on the subjectiveness of the critique, it can be a great way to learn how to be a better restauranteur.
To get your Michelin Stars in Europe you must be a perfectionist in food, beverage , service and everything else. In fact you dread the loss of a star by being suicidal.(which has happened)
Someone above mentioned that if you did not have reviews you might be out of business. I do not agree. Example being In NY Buzzy O Keefe opened the Bridge Cafe in the Brooklyn waterfront. Gael Green gave him a mediocre review after being opened a little while.. It went on to be a huge success. When Buzz then opened the Water Club on the East River Gael came to review it, Buzzy got up from his table and proceeded to ask her to leave with her guest. Water club went on to become one of the most popular places in NY. So a review is not always needed or wanted.
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume).
Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...