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Michelin Guide

message posted 14-Aug-08 16:26:26
The first blue book of the "MICHELIN" guide was published by André Michelin in 1900. It was free back then, and intended as a practical guide for the early 20th-century French motorists. It listed the petrol stations across France, contained information on garages for the different "marques", where to get your Citroen or Peugeot repaired, where to find supplies and parts, and also where to find toilets, meals and accommodation along the way.

By 1920, the dining part had become so popular, Michelin established a team of anonymous inspectors, and started a new 3-category rating system for the restaurants. They took advertising out of the guide and began charging 7 francs for it. (Wikipedia says that a 1-star mark for good cooking was added in 1926, and the 3-category system began in the early 1930s.

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Michelin Red Guide
In 1931 the blue cover was change to the now-familiar red. The famous Michelin Red Guide is available for other European countries (the Britian guide started in 1911) and as of 2006 for New York. Our focus here in Beyond is of course for the French Michelin Guide.

Although the Michelin red guides are filled with extensive information on hotels and restaurants, they're still very handy for motoring information. The town-center maps for towns and cities are excellent, and the guide still lists the automobile garages by marque.

An interesting antecdote has it that the early "worth a detour" or "worth a visit" notation for a restaurant or hotel had the ulterior motive of promoting additional tire wear, a significant factor in early 20th-century motoring.

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Michelin Green Guides
Nothing to do with restaurant star systems, the narrow-format Michelin Green Guides are published for, and about, different regions of France, and for some major cities, From Paris to New York. Each guide has amazing information about the title subject, not only the sites and museums, but historical, geographical and any other information relevant to that place.

We were personally disappointed when, several years ago, the illustrations in the Michelin Green Guides changed from pen-and-ink line drawings to color photographs. Still, the green guides make fascinating reading, even if you're not intending to visit a place.

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French Michelin-Star Restaurants
3-Star Restaurants

"Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey" ("Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage").

In 1995, there were 20 3-star restaurants in France.

2-Star Restaurants

"Excellent cooking, worth a detour" ("Table excellente, mérite un détour").

In 1995, there were 77 2-star restaurants in France.

1-Star Restaurants

"A very good restaurant in its category" ("Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie").

In 1995, there were 445 1-star restaurants in France.

Bib Gourmand Restaurants

"Good meals at moderate prices". This sub-star category was started in the 1950s. The name "Bib" is not a reflection on needing to protect your front from messy eating, but "Bibendum", Michelin's Michelin-Man logo.

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Scandal Sheet
Rumors and stories of lax inspections, bias and star-system drama have cropped up over the years, following the popularity and the enormous influence of the Michelin Guide.

Bias Towards French Cuisine
International food critics often shout that the Michelin rating system is inherently biased toward French cuisine. For a start, we would think that this is no doubt true to some degree, but rather obvious for a system that has grown up for over a hundred years in the French gastronomical world. Being non "experts", we find it difficult to see how comparitive tastes can be measured between cuisines of very different dining cultures — or why it should be.

Slow Inspections
There's a frequent complaint that the Michelin inspections and reviews are so slow that there's a multi-year lag between the quality of a restaurant and the published classification. That's a pretty serious consideration for the consumers, when it results in diners going to a restaurant for the menus of a few years ago.

A more serious complaint is that the inspection standards are actually very lax, and that each restaurant is visited about every 3.5 years, and not the 18-month average claimed by Michelin. This is from a 2004 book by Pascal Rémy, a former Michelin reviewer [1].

High Drama
An extra Michelin star, or the loss of one, can mean the difference to great fame and wealth or shame and failure. Whether the top chefs involved are the picturesque high-strung high-ego prima-donas they're painted by popular media or clear-eyed business and cold-hearted businessmen, the effects of a star change can be just as dramatic.

A recent drama was the February 2003 suicide of prominent French chef Bernard Loiseau, reportedly caused when he heard that his Côte d'Or restaurant in Saulieu, Burgandy, would be downgraded from three to two Michelin stars. Behind-the-headlines news, though, pointed out that M. Loiseau had a history of bipolar disorder, and that he was already despondent because his business was failing. After the fact, Michelin announced that they were not intending to downgrade the Côte d'Or, and later new reports attribued the suicide to an actual downgrade by the Gault Millau guide.

message posted 03-Dec-08 13:03:04
Found this story in the Times.

Chinese chef is first to win Michelin three stars
(Ym Yik)
Chan Yan Tak. He has impressed diners with his steamed lobster
Jane Macartney in Beijing
A chef who began his apprenticeship when he was 15, has become the first Chinese cook in the world to be awarded three Michelin stars, winning the ultimate culinary accolade for dishes such as steamed lobster and scallop dumplings.

Chan Yan Tak, known as Chef Tak, won the only three-star rating for a Hong Kong restaurant in the inaugural Michelin Guide to restaurants and hotels in the former British colony and Macau.

The inspectors chose the Lung King Heen (View of the Dragon) Cantonese restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel for its highest award.

Chef Tak, who admits only to being in his 50s, was lured out of retirement three years ago by the Four Seasons to start the restaurant. “Excited, shocked and happy for my team”, was his immediate reaction to the recognition by the French bible of gastronomy.

Michelin inspectors, dining undercover, ate 12 times at Chef Tak’s tables in the past year as they visited 251 restaurants selected for a place in the food guide.

Jean-Luc Naret, the director of the guides, said that they had been tracking the career of the chef closely. “We have followed him for a few years, actually for ten years . . . He is the first Chinese chef to get three stars,” he said.

Of the 12 Michelin inspectors who compiled the guide, one was from Hong Kong and another was from mainland China, to help to gain a better understanding of the local cuisine. Mr Naret dismissed suggestions that the mainly Western backgrounds of the judges could prevent them from inspecting Asian cooking. “You do not have to be French to understand French cuisine, you do not have to be Chinese to understand Chinese cuisine,” he said.

Chef Tak first started cooking in the teeming Wan Chai district. He brought fame to the Regent Hotel in the city, which is renowned for its Chinese cooking, and he is best known among locals for his dim sum – an array of delicately flavoured steamed and fried snack-sized dishes served at lunchtime with endless pots of tea.

The full menu at Lung King Heen has 133 dishes on offer before a diner even reaches pudding.

The chef’s signature dishes, however, are his lobster and scallop dumplings and steamed Shanghainese pork dumplings with crab meat.

Nicola Chilton, a spokeswoman for the Four Seasons Hotel, said “The lobster and scallop dumplings are incredibly popular. Everyone orders these.”

The favourite dish of Chef Tak, however, is more simple: steamed fish with soy sauce.

Michelin awarded 40 stars in Hong Kong and Macau – modest compared with the 227 it gave when it started its first Asian edition with a guide to Tokyo last year.

It is hoping to sell 100,000 copies of the new guide. In the first few weeks after Tokyo became the city with the most stars in the world, 300,000 copies were sold.

The new guide includes 30 styles of cuisine and brings to 24 the total stars for Joël Robuchon, with three for the Robuchon a Galera restaurant in the Grand Lisboa casino resort in Macau and two for L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurant in Hong Kong.

Mr Naret said: “When we launch a new guide in a city or country, it’s because the gastronomic scene . . . is interesting, diverse and rich.”

On the menu

Baked stuffed crab shell with onions and fresh crab meat
Hot and sour shark-fin soup
Simmered king prawn in champagne sauce with gold leaf
Braised whole fresh abalone in supreme oyster sauce
Sweetened almond cream with glutinous rice dumplings
message posted 17-Sep-09 12:42:46
Found this article today, it is absolutly absurd that the Michelin guide is going to announce or even use twitter to pass comments before the guide is published.

The whole mistique and integrity about the guide is that the chef will never know he has been visited and he has to be visited at least three times in a year.

Also the fact that you never know you have been visited is the only reason that Michelin is un - bribeable and the real reason that it is the ONE and only guide to follow, all the others let the chef know whoo they are and get preferential traetment and "favours".


HERE’S a piece of advance information from the Michelin guide for New York City 2010: 18 new stars will be awarded to restaurants. Michelin is rigorously tight-lipped about the information in its guides until they arrive in stores, and requires similar discretion from its reviewers, who are anonymous.

An ad campaign for the Michelin guides highlights its “famously anonymous” reviewers.
But in this Facebook era, when privacy and anonymity seem like vestiges of a bygone time, Michelin is making itself a bit more accessible as it prepares for the New York guide’s fifth edition, scheduled to be in stores on Oct. 6, and San Francisco’s fourth edition, scheduled for Oct. 20.

It is running an ad campaign for the guides highlighting its “famously anonymous” professional reviewers. Michelin protects the identities of its reviewers to the point that they generally are not allowed to do interviews with the press, and must invent cover stories about their profession so that even friends and family don’t know what they do.

Despite those precautions, with this campaign, Michelin is peeling back the mask of its reviewers. They will post items on Twitter at @MichelinGuideNY and @MichelinGuideSF, including items about places they are dining, advance critiques of chefs and complaints about service.

“One of the things we realized when we started to question people in New York, they realized what Michelin was about, but they didn’t realize that this was about a team of professionals,” said Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin guides. “We’re trying, really, to make sure that people understand they are on the road, they are out there and maybe they could spot them.”

The Michelin guide was first published in France in 1900 as a free directory that offered listings of hotels to promote road travel, which would in turn help sales of Michelin brand tires.

It was distributed at garages and tire dealerships until 1920, when, according to company lore, a co-founder of the guide, André Michelin, noticed stacks of the guides piled up under a garage workbench, and decided that people respected only what they paid for. He began charging for the guide and added restaurant coverage around the same time. By 1931, Michelin was using the three-star system for its restaurants that it still uses today.

Michelin entered the United States with the 2006 New York edition. But New York already had its own restaurant guide. The Zagat Survey was founded in New York City 30 years ago, and surveys regular customers to compile its ratings and reviews.

That is one reason Michelin is emphasizing its professional restaurant and hotel inspectors this year, to differentiate itself from Zagat. Ryan Lynch, senior brand strategist at the advertising agency Cliff Freeman & Partners, which worked on the campaign, said he was also fascinated with the secret life of inspectors.

For instance, inspectors book reservations under fake names, Mr. Naret said. They surreptitiously scribble notes while they are in the bathroom or type them on their BlackBerrys. And they take pains to blend in, even recruiting people to pose as paramours when reviewing certain romantic restaurants.

“They are not going to go by themselves to a restaurant where everyone looks like a couple,” Mr. Naret said. “They have to be a chameleon.”

That got Mr. Lynch thinking that Twitter clues about where the reviewers were eating would intrigue food enthusiasts.

“There’s kind of a ‘Da Vinci Code,’ a little James Bond feel, to who they are and how they go about working and your imagination tends to run wild with it,” Mr. Lynch said. Knowing something about inspectors — from what standards Michelin sets for them to more specific details like where they have been eating — could be a nice piece of trivia for diners, he said.

The Twitter posts from the reviewers so far are along the lines of, “Lunch at Jaiya, renovations still under way but lookin’ good. Yummy spring roll.” But Michelin does not want the Twitter element to be too successful. Crowds are notoriously good at solving online puzzles: people who commented at the site tracked down the makers of a Domino’s Pizza gross-out video earlier this year, and brands like McDonald’s and Wired magazine have set up online mysteries that crowds solve together. If readers figured out who an inspector was, the inspector would be out of a job.

Michelin is taking the precaution of having inspectors send Twitter updates to an editor who posts them, but Mr. Lynch said there were still some worries.

“With technology being what it is, and the advancements in being able to locate people, we open ourselves up for a potential chance of that anonymity being broken, and at the end of the day that can’t happen — it’s got to be a very slow and steady process to find how much these people give away,” he said.

The print ads accompanying the Michelin guide are running in the October editions in San Francisco and New York-area issues of magazines like Bon Appétit, Time Out New York and Architectural Digest. The ads show a handful of urbane young people in a restaurant, watching and being watched, and asks, “Who’s the famously anonymous inspector?” Below, smaller print gives the answer: “You’ll never know, because Michelin inspectors visit restaurants without revealing their identity.”

Michelin is also running the Web site, which includes information about the jobs of reviewers.

“This whole idea of anonymity is the end-all, be-all for what this guide is,” Mr. Lynch said. “To finally start to open up these inspectors to the world is going to be a minute-by-minute learning experience.”

message posted 18-May-11 11:38:47

I am trying to find out more about Michelin stars etc. My aim is to have a Michelin star or 3. who can point me in the right direction, how do I go about?
message posted 18-May-11 12:27:58
Hi Wowfood

Additional info on this page :

Someone or loads of people have to nominate you, then an inspector will make a visit, if they think there might be a possability then they will visit a further teo times, you never know !

Another way is to create a real hype about your restaurant and food, in the papers and magazines and online, then you might get visited.

(They claim it is only about the food) - Bollocks
Your service staff have to be the best money can buy. Your cutlery, crockery, table linen, toilets, chairs etc, has to be the best money can buy.

There have been record amounts of 3 star Michelin chefs handing back their stars because of the financial drain of keeping them.

To Recap

Totally revamp the whole place and staff
Create an unusual amount of hype around the place

You might get a visit !
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