Do you know how to get a Michelin Star? It is one of the most prestigious honors in the culinary world. But a lot of people don’t understand whether a Michelin Star is for restaurants or chefs. The fact is, chefs, don’t earn Michelin stars. They actually go to the restaurant itself, and each star represents how good that restaurant is in its cuisine. 

In this blog, we will be discussing everything about Michelin stars. We’ll explore how Michelin stars work, what Michelin ratings mean, and how long does it take to get a Michelin star in general. Additionally, we’ll also talk about some of the things that restaurants need to do in order to ensure they have a high rating and ultimately make it onto the list of Michelin-starred restaurants! 

What is a Michelin star?

Let’s begin with the most basic question: What is a Michelin star and why is it such a big deal to get one? The Michelin star is an international rating system that rates restaurants on their food quality. Being awarded a Michelin Star has been called “the ultimate achievement for any restaurant.” The very first Michelin star ratings were given in 1926. At that time, only one star was being awarded.

Later in 1931, this was revised and expanded to 3 stars and it is still followed today. However, a restaurant cannot hold more than 3 stars. But if a chef runs more than 3 dining establishments they can hold more than 3 stars. At the moment, Alain Ducasse holds the record for the most Michelin stars in the world by a current living chef. He is a proud owner of 21 Michelin Stars.

Image credit: https://www.cntraveller.in/story/the-curse-of-a-michelin-star/

Michelin stars are a big deal because they dictate how good the food quality of your restaurant is. The Michelin Guide awards this honor after taking into account several criteria. These criteria include cuisine and skill in preparing food, quality of ingredients used, presentation style, and the level of creativity/originality on the plate. It also factors in food taste, texture, and overall dining experience offered by staff members. 

Other important factors considered to get this accolade are consistency across all visits and value for money. This is based on knowledge about customer expectations during the meal preparation process. The more Michelin stars you have, the better your restaurant will appear in guidebooks. 

What do the Michelin ratings mean?

The Michelin Guide has a rating system to grade restaurants for their excellence. One star indicates “a very good restaurant”. Two stars are “excellent cooking that is worth a detour”. Finally, three stars mean “exceptional cuisine that is worth the journey”. A single chef with a proven track record is likely to be awarded two stars. But they can gain three if they go above and beyond even the most exacting standards.

The description of all these three ratings varies depending on the source of information or location you are looking into. For any restaurant, even one Michelin star is a huge accolade. Because most fine dining restaurants get zero stars on inspection. To sum up what does each Michelin rating actually means:

  • One Star: One Michelin star is awarded to the restaurant for being a very good restaurant in its category. An establishment earns one star by consistently offering high quality and high standard food. So they’re deemed worth a visit. Popular one-star restaurants in the USA are Cote, Gramercy Tavern, Caviar Russe, and more.
  • Two Stars: To earn 2 Michelin stars, an establishment must offer exceptional cuisine where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. In 2 star Michelin restaurants, the service is impeccable. The wine list is extensive. Moreover, the chef has truly mastered flavor and cooking techniques and dishes up generous portions. 
  • Three Stars: Three Michelin stars denote the world’s best dining experience. Dining in such an establishment is worth traveling any distance to enjoy. It can be described as an unmissable destination on any gourmet tour. These establishments must have consistently high standards across all criteria like their service, food quality, atmosphere, as well as strong culinary talent. 

Image credit : https://www.washington.org/dc-guide-to/michelin-guide-dining-washington-dc

Did you know Tokyo has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world? With a grand total of 212 Michelin-starred restaurants, Tokyo has 158 one-star restaurants, 42 two-star restaurants, and 12 three-star restaurants. Ultraviolet currently holds the accolade for being the most expensive Michelin star restaurant. It is a 3 Michelin star restaurant in Shanghai.

How does a restaurant get a Michelin star?

Every chef dreams of earning a Michelin star for their restaurant. Earning this accolade immediately sets you apart from your competitors. In addition to this, it amplifies your restaurant sales. Sadly, there is no rule book to earning this treasured star. Werner Loens, the Director of the Michelin Guide for the Benelux, stated in an interview that they look for the following 5 objective criteria in a restaurant:

  1. Quality of a product
  2. Chef’s creativity
  3. Technicality
  4. Quality to price ratio
  5. Consistency in the dining experience

Here are some tips by experts to get noticed by the Michelin inspectors:

Understand the location restraints: 

Michelin-rated restaurants are recognized for offering an unparalleled fine dining experience. But your restaurant has to be within the coverage area to be awarded a star by the Michelin Guide. Michelin only operates in 28 countries as of now. So if your restaurant is not on this list of countries, it does not get considered for the Michelin star.

Focus heavily on quality:

Above everything else, a Michelin inspector looks at the presence of high-quality products in any dish you serve. All other factors are secondary when compared to what is being served on the plate. So you should only serve your guests items made with the absolute best raw materials and ingredients. You must source fresh, superior-quality ingredients grown by local suppliers to create distinctive and delectable dishes. It is also important to have a deep understanding of food guidelines & know what items work together.  

Maintain consistency:

A restaurant must offer a consistently impressive food & dining experience. A single inspector never makes the decision whether or not to award a restaurant a Michelin star. Several inspectors visit your restaurant anonymously. So you cannot afford to let your performance drop at any point. The quality of the food served should be consistent throughout all visits. Only then all Michelin inspectors will unanimously agree that your restaurant deserves a Michelin star.

Mind your presentation:

Your food should be as visually appealing as it is flavorsome. Learn how to make your food look like art by learning plating techniques. Popular Italian chef and restaurateur Giada De Laurentiis says, “I’m into very colorful food. Obviously lots of flavor, but I think we eat with our eyes first, so it has to look great. The presentation has to be great.” Make sure each plate is examined before it heads to the customer as it reflects the chef’s personality. 

Offer top-grade service: 

This one is a no-brainer. Of course, the quality of food is above everything else when it comes to the Michelin evaluation criteria. But any restaurant looking to get noticed by the Michelin Guide must offer outstanding service as it contributes to the overall dining experience. A restaurant serving impeccable food but delivering poor service will never make it to the list of Michelin star restaurants.

Keep innovating: 

As a chef, your aim should be to emerge as unique, and not match standards set by someone else. Think of it this way: Why would the Michelin Guide consider your restaurant for a distinction if you’re serving what every other restaurant out there is serving? Michelin recognizes chefs that have mastered culinary techniques and understand the intricacies of the cuisine they serve. So create your own unique style and master food taste by working on your skills. Keep on with the latest culinary trends and use your knowledge to invent dishes that highlight your skills and talent.

Price your menu sensibly: 

The Michelin inspectors want to see how value for money your restaurant food is. So it is crucial to price your menu items according to the value being offered. The restaurant ambiance and dining experience do play a major role in the menu pricing, but what’s important is that the overall experience should justify what the customers pay to dine in your restaurant. To learn more about how to price your menu, click here

Have a well-trained staff:

The chef alone cannot run the entire show. In other words, having the right team is vital to ensure your restaurant builds a stellar reputation in the industry. Train your staff to maintain high standards and discipline for every task – be it welcoming the guests and seating them, cooking the food, or addressing a customer concern. Above all, earning a Michelin star does not mean putting up a good performance just one time. Therefore, it has to be a continuous effort day in and day out.

Maintain cleanliness:

A big part of ensuring a great dining experience for your customers is maintaining a clean FOH and BOH. Chefs need to operate out of a well-organized kitchen that is in immaculate condition to get their creative juices flowing. Additionally, it becomes easy to maintain food hygiene if the kitchen is clean. Create a work environment where cleanliness becomes second nature for all your staff. This will reflect in your restaurant quality and enhance the customer satisfaction levels.

Request reviews:

The Michelin guide keeps an eye on chefs who consider cooking as a real art form and display exemplary mastery of cooking techniques. To catch their eye, you must ensure that there are tons of positive reviews about your restaurant out there. Avoid unnecessary marketing gimmicks and focus on getting genuine reviews from your customers. Invite popular food critics and bloggers and request them for their honest reviews. Their reviews may catch the Michelin inspectors’ eye and compel them to pay your restaurant a visit!

Conclusion

Although a restaurant can never know when or whether or not they are being evaluated for the Michelin star, the above steps can very well put you on the right track to increase your chances of earning it. Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants for their originality and high level of cooking technique knowledge. No amount of advertising can replace that. So focus on mastering flavors and give your restaurant food an unmatched taste & personality that is impossible to ignore. 

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