As I head out from the Michelin star restaurant La Scene by lady chef Sophie Le Quellec in Prince de Galles Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris, the thought suddenly comes to me. For a foodie, the name Michelin evocates the best restaurants on the planet, chef celebrities, and large plates with expensive, nano-sized yet pretty and delectable dishes. But to seasoned travellers and car lovers, Michelin is also known as a brand of… tires for sedans and formula racing cars. What do wheels and good food have in common?
When in 1900 the brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin, tire manufacturers in the middle of France, issued their first printed itinerary guide, little had they imagined that it would turn into the world’s most praised little red book. That guide contained useful information for motorists, such as maps, tire repairing and changing instructions, and a list of mechanics, hotels and gas stations – a bit the job of a modern day travel concierge.
Three decades later, the star classification was introduced, all in the interest of the hungry traveller:
- 1 Michelin star: “A very good restaurant in its category”
- 2 Michelin stars: “Excellent cooking, worth a detour”
- 3 Michelin stars: “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”
Stars may seem an old-fashioned icon, but they reward century-old and contemporary culinary traditions. Once only in France, today you can find starred restaurants virtually all over the world. Food lovers can enjoy the ultimate dining experiences like in the 30 Michelin-Star fine dining experience in France, a week itinerary where diners indulge in three, two and one-star restaurants.
Restaurants are reviewed anonymously by Michelin inspectors; they never give their identity to the restaurants and the meals are paid just like any customer would do. Pretty much like a secret agent in the field, an inspector shall not disclose their line of work to their relatives. Each restaurant visit is followed by a written report, and the final classification is subject to extensive debates over annual “stars meetings” held in closed locations.
Like any ranking, for instance of the classification of fine wines, the Michelin guide has been subject to much appeal and controversies. Michelin-style cuisine is glorified in a range of entertaining movies about food (article to come), programs such as Masterchef and TV channels. It has created jealousy with criticism and competitive rankings like the World’s Best 50 Restaurants. Challenge came when Michelin published its first Japan ranking, and whether inclusion of Peru’s sensorial cuisine or Australia’s culinary delights should be part of the scope.
Dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant is often an unforgettable experience. I particularly enjoy Michelin star lunches in those places for their have outstanding food at decently-priced set menus. Of course having dinner in the open kitchen and meeting chef celebrities is priceless. Why not even gathering them for you for the most amazing Michelin fine dining experience of your life – high up there in the sky?
by Julien Yung Mameaux