Back in 1900, starting in France, André Michelin decided to come up with a handy guide for his customers in order to boost more sales. The fine dining category of the guide was what took off. In 1931, the three-star rating system was put in place with anonymous inspectors. These inspectors must have extensive culinary background and must also pass the official Michelin Guide training. It is worldwide now.
- One-star means it is a good restaurant in its own right. It has a great menu but it does not stand out and shine.
- Two-star means excellent cooking and you should take that detour to enjoy. Enjoy not only their food but also their ambience and the overall experience.
- Three-star means exceptional cuisine and you should go out of your way to indulge. It is essential that you soak into their greatness.
Do they matter? Yes, to some, but for the others they can live with not having any. It is critiqued for boosting an intensely strict style of cooking. However in the culinary world, it is considered to be the highest form of recognition a chef could attain.
It is by no way easy to get yourself a mention in the Michelin guide. A mention in the guide itself is considered great as it is celebrated by world-class chefs. So start small:
- Get noticed – The Michelin Guide gets plenty of suggestions from their readers and this can catch their eye. They are always on the look for great food. Keeping your customers’ tummy pleased means your restaurant will get noticed for the right reasons.
- Serve excellent food with excellent service – Treat everyone like they are Michelin inspectors. But do not put unnecessary pressure on yourself that translates into your food. The culinary technical skills of your dishes are crucial here. Keep them appetising and appealing.
- Be consistent – Those anonymous visits are not going to be a one-off. It can range from 4 to 10 visits depending on the number of stars you are playing for. They try different meals each time. They know what they are doing, seeing, and feeling. The inspectors write a report on each meal starting from service, décor, and location all the way to the quality of the food, ingredients and presentation. Be on your toes.
- Take initiative – You could also be proactive and write in asking to be reviewed. It is terrifying and almost like blowing your own trumpet. But if you feel like you are ready, there is no harm in trying. Hidden gems are not always easily noticed.
And then you wait. The wait is agonising but you go on and continue your passion in the culinary world. Sometimes you won’t get the result until a year after inspection or until the guide is published.
For those non-chefs out there, start saving up for some of these amazing three-star restaurants:
- Alinea in Chicago, USA
- Piazza Duomo in Alba, Italy
- Quique Dacosta in Dénia, Spain
- Schauenstein Schloss in Fürstenau, Switzerland
- Bo Innovation in Hong Kong, China
– Benazir Parween, Correspondent (Food)