For well-seasoned travelers having lunch or dinner in a Michelin star restaurant is a must. But what lays behind the most sought restaurants in the world, who decides what restaurants to be rewarded and which are the criteria?
The French entrepreneurs Ándre and Édouard Michelin started a tire company in 1889 and named it Michelin. In 1900, they decided to publish a rating guide for hotels and restaurants. The Michelin guide was intended to boost the demand for cars, and thus for car tires.
The first edition was printed in 35,000 copies at a time when there were around 2,200 cars in France. As the tire company grew, so did their guide. They launched country-specific editions throughout Europe that became popular enough to compel the brothers to start charging for the booklets in 1920.
In 1926, the guide expanded to the industry that made it famous – fine dining. Five years later, the three-star system was introduced. Initially, there was only a single star awarded. Then, in 1931, the hierarchy of one, two, and three stars was introduced and later, in 1936, the criteria for the starred rankings were published and it remained unchanged until now:
* (one star) signifies
“A very good restaurant in its category” (“Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie”)
** (two stars) signify
“Excellent cooking, worth a detour” (“Table excellente, mérite un détour”)
*** (three stars) signify
“Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey” (“Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage”)
In 2015 the guide covers 25 countries and it is sold in nearly 90 countries. In 2014, the top of Michelin Guide restaurants was dominated by France and Japan with 594 and respectively 516 starred restaurants.
When a restaurant is awarded a Michelin Star, it is a sign that the chef succeeded at the highest level. Losing a star might be daunting; Gordon Ramsay, the British celebrity chef said he cried when his New York restaurant The London lost its prestigious two Michelin Stars in 2014.