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Why I feel pursuit of Michelin stars is a worthy pursuit - A discussion

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I was watching the Marcus Wareing  bbc documentary on pursuit of perfection....and the host keeps questioning..in the end we are just cooking lunch so why the effort?

 

Then it hit me....most of the worlds population survives on really bad food...from doritos, to mcd, to mediocre mid-range food and lot of great cuisines have been commercialised and bastardized.

We as chefs are always at war with packaged and fast food industry because they are about scaling up and processed mass production.

 

 

if the battle of michelin stars did not exist, no revolution will happen in cuisines and people will forget what fresh food and flavors are....we would fed sour cream onion dips and plastic meat patties.

 

Discuss.

 

I am very new in this industry but i do seek inspiration everywhere.

 

post #2 of 19

Innovation comes from chefs, not MIchelin stars. Yes, Michelin stars can be a driving force behind some innovation; but innovation exists and springs forth from sources outside the lofty environments of Michelin star establishments.

 

Did Van Gogh paint because of the Louvre? Or despite it?

 

If the Louvre didn't exist, would we be relegated to hanging Hallmark cards on our walls?

 

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post #3 of 19
Quote:
 Then it hit me....most of the worlds population survives on really bad food...from doritos, to mcd,

 

That's a very American, 1st World centric viewpoint.  The worst part of that statement is "from doritos, to mcd,".  Much of world doesn't even have access to those foods let alone eat those foods regularly.  I would disagree that most of the world survives on really bad food.  Bad, by whose standard?  There are simple peasant foods and street foods that will blow you away with their flavor.  There are Indian and Thai Curries and Mexican Moles that would boggle your mind with their complexity.  Sorry I couldn't disagree more with that statement.  I will give you more leeway though if you meant that many Americans survive on bad food.  There I might tend to agree more as we, as a society, in general, have come to view convenience as more important than good preparation when it comes to food but even that is starting to change again and we are starting to see the pendulum start to swing back the other way.  But I am also one to say that there is room for both Doritos and Pate de Foie Gras.

post #4 of 19

The Great Cuisines of the world have all been peasant food. What the commoner prepared and ate. Sure, fancy court food shows up in feasts and such but is really an oddity more than a baseline of the cuisine. 

 

Chinese, Indian, Greek, Italian, French, Mexican and all is about the eating of the commoner. Michelin stars are quite far removed from this imho. They're more elite performances and innovations. Think the Olympic Games. But does that mean the corner playground games are unimportant. No, that's where most of play really happens, where the majority enjoyment of the sport occurs. And so it is with food. 

 

In industrialized nations, food has drifted towards increased convenience, but that is not a great cuisine. The great food of the wold continues to be cooked though it does evolve and pick up conveniences. 

 

I've never eaten at a Michelin starred restaurant and probably never will. I don't tend to travel to places where Michelin reviewers hang out to award stars. Does this mean that I'm not eating quality food. Not in the least.  Similarly, though the Olympics happened all around me and I've skied Olympic terrain at a much more sedate pace, I'll not compete in the Olympics, nor attend the event. But it doesn't decrease my skiing quality experience. 

 

I'll enjoy reading and seeing what these performing chefs create, but it's not particularly reflective of what great cuisine is which is tied to the history and culture of the people, not the individual performances. Even though at the individual level, it is often great food. 

 

Michelin stars are their own thing, their own competition. If that's what drives you great. But it's hardly reflective of much of the great food eaten every day around the world by many people, whether in a restaurant or at home. 

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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 19

Don't forget that Michelin stars incorporate more than just the food. The service and ambiance are also a part of the star rating system.

 

We were sitting around talking about this thread the other day and someone asked me:

 

As to the Chefs......how is it that Michelin starred Chefs compete in the Bocuse d Or competition and lose?

My only answer was that these Chefs were not in their home element, but rather were a group team competition.

The quality of the Michelin Chef competing with others who are not, is a non issue here.

 

The Michelin rating system is really about quality.

I've eaten at 3 Michelin restaurants and I couldn't tell you the difference between a 3 star or a 2 star place.

 

I certainly understand the commitment and all that goes into striving for the star.

I also understand how the star rating system affects Chefs. (Remember the Chef who killed himself after losing a star?)

 

Chef Brah....you really need to expand your knowledge and culinary experience before you make such blatant statements about people's eating habits. Michelin restaurants are a really really small percentage of the restaurant scene.

post #6 of 19

Chef Brah, you are to young to have such a cynical approach to food.  It may be from living in NYC.  Rating systems are to set standards for a type of establishment and type of food.  Travel the world or at least the US and you will find a lot of good food.  Not necessarily fancy food but great food served by great cooks.  A lot of these are better tasting than Michelin rated dishes.  It is just like the network stars and celebrity chefs food some is good and some is not.  I have had twenty dollar burgers that were different but not better than the three fifty burger from the hole in the wall down the street.  Get out and find the roses.   

post #7 of 19
Michelin isn't a term you hear down here even in the top echelon restaurants. I've heard tons of commotion over tripadvisor and even yelp reviews in shift meetings both Foh and BoH. Zagat and Wine Spectator aren't heard much either. Social media has made the masses our critics now.
post #8 of 19

     Any effort to improve ones' cooking is a worthy goal. But even the Michelin places get negative reviews. I've had a few high class meals I could have done without and other meals that were memorable not just for the food but the company and situation. 

And of course, even if I make certain dishes better than anyone else in the world, there will be customers who say "Well, it's alright, but it's not like my grandmother made it". So professionally, mine beats grandma's hands down. But I can't possibly replicate the memory of Grandma. 

       I still remember the first time I had Vietnamese roast pork and duck. My girlfriend and I visited the local asian market and one of my older Vietnamese employees happened to be there doing her shopping. She didn't speak any english. Grabbed me by the arm, led me to the prepared food area and shouted orders in Vietnamese to the attendant. She handed me the bag and let me know it was on her while pushing me out the door. Ten minutes later she found my girlfriend and I eating off the hood of the car in the parking lot. She got a good laugh over that and we had one heck of a meal. 

    Great food is everywhere. Most of the time it doesn't cost much either. 

post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Brah View Post
 

 

Then it hit me....most of the worlds population survives on really bad food...from doritos, to mcd, to mediocre mid-range food 

 

 

That's not even close to being accurate. 84% of the worlds population lives on less than $20 a day. MOST of the worlds population doesn't survive on really bad food, they actually just barely survive. 

 

That you are sitting in a room, on a computer, with running water, a toilet, food in the fridge, a roof over your head, discussing Michelin stars on an online forum, shows that you have about 75% of the world population beat. 

 

Besides, comparing "survival" food to Michelin food is silly...someone doesn't eat Michelin rated food to survive. It is an experience and a pleasure, not something one does for sustenance. 

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete View Post
 

 

That's a very American, 1st World centric viewpoint.  The worst part of that statement is "from doritos, to mcd,".  Much of world doesn't even have access to those foods let alone eat those foods regularly.  I would disagree that most of the world survives on really bad food.  Bad, by whose standard?  There are simple peasant foods and street foods that will blow you away with their flavor.  There are Indian and Thai Curries and Mexican Moles that would boggle your mind with their complexity.  Sorry I couldn't disagree more with that statement.  I will give you more leeway though if you meant that many Americans survive on bad food.  There I might tend to agree more as we, as a society, in general, have come to view convenience as more important than good preparation when it comes to food but even that is starting to change again and we are starting to see the pendulum start to swing back the other way.  But I am also one to say that there is room for both Doritos and Pate de Foie Gras.

 

some inputs from me:

 

i have done cooking in india and lived there also. 

 

theres an epidemic of obesity and packaged food and its causing serious health hazards in india: http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-noodles-in-the-soup/ 

the entire cuisine has been destroyed... read blog by floyd cardoz (one of the best indian chefs in US) that explains why indian food in america is better than indian food in india as of today: http://amoveablefeast.in/?p=601

 

 

yes theres lot of street food but theres not much innovation there either.

 

michelin recently started giving stars to asian stalls in south east asia and such move has encouraged more affordable and revival of culinary scene in the region.

 

i think it does make some difference and helps promote better standards in service and taste.

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimyra View Post
 

Chef Brah, you are to young to have such a cynical approach to food.  It may be from living in NYC.  Rating systems are to set standards for a type of establishment and type of food.  Travel the world or at least the US and you will find a lot of good food.  Not necessarily fancy food but great food served by great cooks.  A lot of these are better tasting than Michelin rated dishes.  It is just like the network stars and celebrity chefs food some is good and some is not.  I have had twenty dollar burgers that were different but not better than the three fifty burger from the hole in the wall down the street.  Get out and find the roses.   

yes you are right i am too young in this field to make any judgement but just wanted to get inputs from others.

 

some of the best meals i have had were from food trucks in LA..do hope to venture out into other places such as new orleans, miami etc.

 

i have lived and travelled in Asia a lot..so i am very familiar with asian cuisine ..and also seen hijacking attempts by fast food chains there.

post #12 of 19

I'd like to discuss your first post, chefbrah, as you requested.

 

Michelin stars......meh.  Its taken for granted that the quality of the ingredients are the best.  Its taken for granted that the best, appropriate techniques (learned from experience) are used for each individual step for that particular dish.  Chef Ross makes a good point about ambiance, and of course the skills the wait staff possess.  In my humble opinion, the Michelin stars are just hair splitting, nothing really changes unless a new ingredient is discovered.  This whole thing--Michelin stars-- has nothing to do with nourishment or eating practically, or even cooking practically.  It really isn't sustainable for any length of time.

 

If you study food, really study it, you will begin to understand that many of the dishes evolved around either food preservation, or utilizing what you had in order not to starve.  Take cheese, for instance, a zillion variaties, right? What does a farmer do with excess milk?  Refrigeration hadn't been invented, can't transport it fast enough to sell it, so you preserve it.  Haggis, blood pudding, scrapple, etc., all dishes utilizing that last little bit of the animal.  Every culture in the world--and I mean every culture--has some form of dried or salted protein, some method of food preservation--from ghee to Kim Chi to pemmican, to thousand year eggs, to..............whatever.  Many--not all, but many cultures have some version of sausage, utilizing that last little bit of the animal.

 

No one wants to eat garbage.  Give anyone a raw egg, and they'll take the effort to make it taste good.  Options of cooking said egg are only limited by equipment and imagination.  It takes an awfully depressed person to cook that egg the same way, day in and day out.  America was discovered because of Europe's hunger for spices, no one wanted to eat plain.

 

Just my thoughts..

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post
 

I'd like to discuss your first post, chefbrah, as you requested.

 

Michelin stars......meh.  Its taken for granted that the quality of the ingredients are the best.  Its taken for granted that the best, appropriate techniques (learned from experience) are used for each individual step for that particular dish.  Chef Ross makes a good point about ambiance, and of course the skills the wait staff possess.  In my humble opinion, the Michelin stars are just hair splitting, nothing really changes unless a new ingredient is discovered.  This whole thing--Michelin stars-- has nothing to do with nourishment or eating practically, or even cooking practically.  It really isn't sustainable for any length of time.

 

If you study food, really study it, you will begin to understand that many of the dishes evolved around either food preservation, or utilizing what you had in order not to starve.  Take cheese, for instance, a zillion variaties, right? What does a farmer do with excess milk?  Refrigeration hadn't been invented, can't transport it fast enough to sell it, so you preserve it.  Haggis, blood pudding, scrapple, etc., all dishes utilizing that last little bit of the animal.  Every culture in the world--and I mean every culture--has some form of dried or salted protein, some method of food preservation--from ghee to Kim Chi to pemmican, to thousand year eggs, to..............whatever.  Many--not all, but many cultures have some version of sausage, utilizing that last little bit of the animal.

 

No one wants to eat garbage.  Give anyone a raw egg, and they'll take the effort to make it taste good.  Options of cooking said egg are only limited by equipment and imagination.  It takes an awfully depressed person to cook that egg the same way, day in and day out.  America was discovered because of Europe's hunger for spices, no one wanted to eat plain.

 

Just my thoughts..

that last line was brilliant.

 

And thanks for educating me.

 

For me, the end game is to own my restaurant by age of 35. I was lucky to start off under sous chefs and doing production, service and plating and inventory. I also try to understand business & marketing aspect of the business so thats where my opinion came from.

post #14 of 19

I'll add this to the discussion. Awards of any kind are nice but not a goal to pursue. A full dining room as often as possible is the goal to pursue. The award feeds your ego, the dining room pays the bills. Perhaps ironically, the more often you can fill the dining room with happy, repeat customers, the more awards you are likely to get. 

post #15 of 19

I guess my views are kind of conflicted.  On the one hand I'm in awe of some of the places that have three Michelin stars.  On the other hand it's not the star rating that makes the Fat Duck or The French Laundry impressive- it's the food and the artistry.  And I once read an "expose" of sorts by a supposed insider that kind of ruined the illusion of Michelin for me.  I mean, one place added a star by remodeling the bathrooms!  At the highest level everything matters but on some level it's totally subjective.  How many times has a film won Best Picture and you didn't really like it, or thought it was mediocre at best?  Awards are just popularity contests at their core.  As Chefwriter says, I'd rather have a full dining room.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

I'll add this to the discussion. Awards of any kind are nice but not a goal to pursue. A full dining room as often as possible is the goal to pursue. The award feeds your ego, the dining room pays the bills. Perhaps ironically, the more often you can fill the dining room with happy, repeat customers, the more awards you are likely to get. 

This is so true. In NYC this year we have had 3 restaurants with 1-2 Michelin stars announce they are closing this year. 

post #17 of 19

A-yup.  Like I said, Michelin star restaurants are not very sustainable.........

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #18 of 19
I push myself to continuously to learn and grow in my pursuit of the craft of cooking. Regardless how good I am the day I stop thinking about the people I cook for and start trying to pursue an award? I'm screwed. I become just another contrived bullshit restaurant that lost touch with their reason to be open.
Sending lifetime linecook love,
Peachcreek
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 

my point of starting this discussion was to educate myself more and learn directly from chefs who have worked for years and i have been schooled.

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