Curious about how Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants? Or whether the decor and service play a part? These are the Michelin Star guide facts you need to know, according to a real life Michelin inspector. They’re not exactly common knowledge, with a lot of misconceptions about the awards.
The most prestigious restaurant award can make or break a restaurant, with chefs working their entire lives to be awarded one, two, or – the ultimate! – three stars. Here’s how the awards work, and what it really takes to make it into the famous guide.
Interesting Michelin Star guide factsHow do these rankings work?
1. Here’s what the star ratings actually mean:
- One star: A good place to stop on your journey, indicating a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard.
- Two stars: A restaurant worth a detour, indicating excellent cuisine and skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality
- Three stars: A restaurant worth a special journey, indicating exceptional cuisine where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients.
2. The guides focuses only on the food – decor and service don’t count
“It’s just the food – the restaurant could be the swankiest, most comfortable place in the world but if the food isn’t that great, we aren’t going to have it in our guide. Similarly, if the food is wonderful then we don’t care if we’re sitting on plastic chairs having queued outside for an hour.”
3. Restaurant inspectors visit each restaurant more than once
“When it comes to awarding Stars, we will have as many meals as we need to in order to make a decision.”
4. Inspectors are designated a territory which changes each year
It’s up to each inspector to do research and keep tabs on what’s happening in that part of the world; who is opening what, the general state of the market, etc.
5. There’s currently 1,205 Michelin star restaurants in the world
Of those, just 57 restaurants have three stars. The top country with the most Michelin star restaurants is Italy, then Spain, the UK, and the USA.
6. Michelin star inspectors spend the first few months of their job eating at the world’s best restaurants!
When they first join, they spend a few months with inspectors from various countries eating in all the best places around the world so that they can establish a frame of reference. After all, how do you know if a restaurant is worthy of a Michelin Star if you’ve only ever eaten in a handful?
7. And unsurprisingly, a little weight gain is part and parcel of the job
Inspectors say that “you may put on a pound or two when you start, but most of us level out – or just start wearing slightly looser clothing.” Why aren’t they all the size of a house? Well, they’re “mostly eating good quality, fresh food and we spend time over our meals.”