5 Things you probably didn’t know about the Michelin Guide

The latest Michelin Guide France was announced last week and of course for every food enthusiast, or restaurant owner this is the Oscars of the food industry. And though most of  us get excited by the hype surrounding this publication, most of us don’t even know what having one, two or three stars even mean ! We compiled some facts for you to impress your friends the next time this topic comes up.

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1.No-one knows how many inspectors are employed by the guide. 

The guide covers more than 23 countries in the world, but the actual number of inspectors was never communicated. There are said to be between 80 and 120 inspectors. The inspectors must receive a 6 months training and work with an experienced inspector before being able to be trusted with any feedback.

2.The star rating system. 

The star rating system was first introduced in 1931, but the rating criteria was not make public until until 1936.

  • One Star: a very good restaurant in its category – “Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie” 
  • Two Stars: excellent cooking, worth a detour – “Table excellente, mérite un détour”
  • Three Stars: exceptional cuisine, worthy of a special journey – “Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage”

3.The dishes are judged based on 5 criteria.

Michelin inspectors only reflect on what is on the plate – even if most of the Michelin restaurants are known for having great interiors, and impeccable service, if what’s in the plate is not impressive they won’t make it.

  • The quality of ingredients.
  • The skills in preparation and combination of flavours.
  • The level of creativity.
  • The value for money.
  • The consistency in cookery.

Even if decor and service do not affect start ratings, they are indicated by a fork-and-spoon symbols.

4. Michelin Stars are the ultimate accolade. 

Food lovers around the world consider this guide as their bible, being on that list for most chefs is the ultimate recognition in their hard work. Ironically being awarded a star doesn’t always mean having your restaurant fully booked, as nearly close to half of the restaurant of the guide are thought to be not profitable. Even if making it to the guide doesn’t automatically means profitably, losing a star can often mean -50% of sales.

In 2003, well-known French chef Bernard Loiseau, who was 52 then, committed suicide by firing a shotgun into his mouth amid rumours in the press that his restaurant was about to lose its prized three-star status.

5. The Michelin Guide used to be a promotional giveaway by the french tyre company. 

In 1889, Andre and Edouard Michelin started a tire company. Eleven years later, they came up with the idea to rate hotels and restaurants in order to inspire tourism, and therefore increase the need for people to buy tires more often.

The first international copy of the Michelin guide was published in Belgium in 1904. The first British edition was published in 1911.

The Michelin Guide was free until 1922, until the brothers decided to charge seven francs for each guide.

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