Restaurants all throughout the world aspire to earn the highly coveted Michelin Star status. What started as a travel guide during early 1900’s Europe is now known for providing lucky patrons with a guide to world-class dining experiences most can’t say they’ve had.
But why is the Michelin Star so sought after, why are they important and.. what the heck are they?
Michelin Stars: What Are They?
The Michelin Star is a fundamental trademark for fine-dining standards of many of the world’s top chefs and restaurant patrons. Recipients that are awarded cheerfully promote their Michelin Stars with honor and newly acquired status. Most, if not all restaurants that receive Michelin Star status often see an increase in business due to the award.
Michelin stars are a top-class rating system used by the red Michelin Guide. The system grades restaurants on a number of categories, primarily the overall restaurant quality.
Red Michelin Guide
Michelin Guides are a series of guide-books published by French tire company, It usually refers to the annually published Michelin Red Guide – which is the oldest European hotel and restaurant reference guide.
Michelin Guide History
The Michelin Guide Star originated in France – a country known worldwide for its passion for fine cuisine and culinary arts. The Michelin Guide was originally a feature of the Michelin Guide Books that were published in 1900 by the founders of the Michelin Tire Company, brothers Édouard Michelin and André Michelin .
At the time, most drivers habitually stayed within the confines of their own neighborhoods, rarely journeying beyond what they knew. With the start of the Michelin Tire Company in 1889, the founders sought a way to compel the limited drivers to make longer journeys. In turn? The drivers would buy more tires!
The Michelin Guide listed information in abundance for motorists. It included where to find the best meals along with accommodations while touring with their vehicles.
With the growth of the company, growth came with the guide – so much so that it came with a new price tag which was introduced in 1920.
By then, the dining element of the Michelin Guide was in high demand. It reached the point where Michelin decided to set up a team of scouts who had the job of anonymously visiting and rating restaurants on a 3-category basis. The rating system, which is still in place today, was referred to as Michelin Stars. 3 stars meant the restaurant was exceptional and worth the special journey, 2 stars meant excellent cooking that’s worth a detour and 1 star for a very good restaurant within its category.
Michelin Star – Expansion Outside of France
By 1933, 23 restaurants in the country of France were rated with 3 stars. It was later extended to cover additional European countries while temporarily suspended in World War II. Immediately after, the 1951 edition saw the return of Michelin’s 3 star system. The bar was raised, however, resulting in less restaurants receiving the maximum rating.
Now, Michelin Stars are awarded selectively to a handful of restaurants globally for outstanding quality.
Michelin Star Rating System
- One Star: A restaurant that’s considered very good within its given category. These restaurants have high-quality menus and cuisines with high standards, however, they are limited in some way.
- Two Stars: A restaurant that offers an excellent cuisine that’s delivered to guests in a truly unique way. This restaurant has exceptional offerings and is worth a detour to check out while traveling.
- Three Stars: Not only do these restaurants offer outstanding cuisines and service, but they’re worth a special trip just to visit. Instead of being a stop along the way to a destination, these three star Michelin Restaurants are the destinations. Three stars means a distinct dish that’s elegantly executed, making it an award of the highest standards.
- Bib Gourmand: These are basically Michelin’s honorable mentions. The Bib Gourmand are given to restaurants that provide consumers with quality food at a value.
- The Plate: The Michelin plate is a symbol for restaurants that have neither a star nor a Bib Gourmand. In this selection, these restaurants are showcased for very good food.
2019 Michelin Star Awarded Restaurants Worth Mentioning in the United States
Los Angeles, California
- n/naka – Kaiseki Dining experience prepared by chef Niki Nakayama
- Providence – Chef Michael Cimarusti’s fine-dining destination
- Vespertine – Dining as art at this reservations-only venture from Jordan Kahn
San Francisco, California
- Atelier Crenn – Artfully presented French dishes with a focus on innovation
- The Restaurant at Meadowood – offering custom fine Californian tasting menus
- Acquerello – High-end Italian cuisine & wines served in a converted chapel
- Alinea – Chef Grant Achatz draws foodies with New American tasting menus
- Smyth – Rustic-chic venue offering tasting menus of high-end New American fare
- Acadia – An airy, upscale restaurant serving seasonal New American dishes
New York, New York
- Jean-Georges – Sophisticated New French eatery
- Masa – Japanese restaurant offering a high-end fixed-price sushi menu
- Daniel – Daniel Boulud’s elegant French flagship where jackets are required
Are there any restaurants you feel we missed on the U.S. or think should deserve a Michelin Star? Let us know!