michelin star

Joined Apr 6, 2010
Sorry if this is the wrong section, i wanted to post this in the professional section but it advised me not to since I am not a professional.

How does an establishment earn a michelin star?
Joined Mar 3, 2010
its really hard i   sure your place has to be top nothc, i was talking to a chef of mine about it not long ago about it because we were talking aboiut this chef i had helped and he was telling me he  quit to get his michelin star. he said they critique you on everything and i mean everything.  when he had his kitchen build he spent like 40 or 50 grand to make sure the kitchen stays at like 60 degrees at all times becaus eof the type of food they do, fine dinning. its a special group of people that do it just like diamond awards or star awards. research im sure you will find some info. restuarant i work for had 2 four diamond awards back in the day. im sure someone will chime in
Joined Sep 5, 2008
First you need to have the Michelin inspectors visit your establishment. They don't visit all cities every year. For example this year they didn't visit Los Angeles, which is why there's no 2010 Los Angeles Michelin restaurant guide. If you just opened in L.A. or if you were hoping to be evaluated or reevaluated this year, you're out of luck. You can always contact Michelin to let them know you're around, but they decide which restaurants they visit. When the inspectors visit the restaurant, they do so anonymously, in order to be treated as any other client would. They don't visit the kitchen or anything, they just walk in, order a normal meal, pay for their meal, and leave. Most restaurant owners never know they were there. Many restaurant owners obviously try to recognize them, and some probably do. This is quite different from many other guides where the inspectors introduce themselves right away, therefore get special service, and usually don't pay for their meal - hence biased reviews. The Michelin guide is much more serious than that.

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.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
This is quite different from many other guides where the inspectors introduce themselves right away, therefore get special service, and usually don't pay for their meal - hence biased reviews.
That's a pretty broad-brushed indictment, FF. Could you name some of those so-called biased guides?


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
You also get repeat visits from the Michelin people.  They don't do it if the restaurant is subpar though.  To get a star you have to be very consistent.
Joined Jul 17, 2009
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.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I'm not familiar with the Gault Millau, but even if what you say is true (you haven't provided any documentation), thats one out of how many? Dozens of restaurant guides?

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!
Joined Sep 5, 2008
KYH I'll be honest I was basing that specific comment on my personal experience working in a restaurant in France. I don't know how reviewers or critics work here. I'm sure many other guides are perfectly honest as well. But from my experience, in the restaurant I worked in, I can tell you that a LOT of critics and guide reviewers were making reservations telling us who they worked for, were expecting to get the special treatment, and always happily accepted not to pay. On the other hand, we never knew when Michelin reviewers came or did not come. It was just a mystery.

If anyone thinks that the Michelin people are not affected by ambiance they're living in a different world than the rest of us.
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.
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
in theory at least, his review evaluates the film, and the film only.

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.
Joined Jul 17, 2009
What you said above is right, however there ARE some restaurants that hate the guides and the critics because they are biased and aren't accurate at all. If a restaurant is said to be the worlds # 1 restaurant in the world, that doesn't mean it is. However much you like a restaurant isn't a fact, and that's why the guides are opinionated, because your likes aren't the same as others. And restaurants do take themselves off the list, people already know about the place, but it hasn't become world famous doesn't mean they will run out of business. They just don't want to deal with the crap they get, critics don't pay, complain about something, loud and obnoxious, all for a crappy review on their restaurant because they don't get what the dining experience was about. So yea, I was thinking about what I wrote.
Joined Jan 10, 2010
So, how important is it that a restaurant have a Michelin star rating?  Is it more for prestige, or does a rstaurant garner signifigant financial rewards?  There are plenty of establishments around here that are well regarded, very successful, and quite popular,yet have never received a star, an honorable mention, or any recognition from Michelin.  Yet they keepon putting out superb food year after year, and people flock to these places in great numbers.  Might not some of these places be unable to handle signifigant extra business that's generated from being star-rated?  Arethere instances where restaurants have failed, or suffered, because they could not handle the results of getting a star or two?

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?
Joined Jul 17, 2009
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.
Joined Apr 2, 2007
Here you go...

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block this out for now

[h4]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:[/h4]
  • 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.

Joined Apr 5, 2010
 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.
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.

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Joined Apr 6, 2010
How come (with the exception to L.A, S.F and N.Y) michelin has really stayed out of America?
Joined Feb 13, 2008
You'll have to ask Michelin why they currently publish guides for and award stars in NY and SF only.  I expect you can find good grub in other cities as well, but could be wrong.

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Joined May 5, 2010
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. 
Joined Apr 3, 2010
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.

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