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Friday, January 1, 2021

Michelin Ratings---Setting the Record Straight !

         Stars are Michelin's highest level of ratings, but being listed in the Guide is also an honor

It’s the New Year and time to set the record straight about Michelin restaurant ratings.  There seems to be confusion on the varying levels of Michelin restaurant ratings.   In this Blog we’ll review the different levels of these Michelin “grades.”

First, to set the stage, a little history on the Michelin ratings.  The Michelin tire company produced its first book of restaurant ratings in 1920 to assist new car owners in their first excursions from home in an automobile.   Hotels as well as restaurants were covered.  In 1926 it introduced a “star system” to denote a very special restaurant with outstanding cuisine.  In 1931 the guide morphed to its present day system with four hierarchial rankings:                 

  •  Level A:  lowest level but an honor nonetheless to even be listed in the Michelin Guide.  These restaurants have no stars, but are simply recommended by Michelin.
  • Level B:  One star:  Michelin describes these special restaurants as “high quality cooking worth a stop.”
  • Level C:  Two stars:  defined by Michelin as “excellent cooking worth a detour.”
  • Level D:  Three stars, highest honor:  according to Michelin, this restaurant has “exceptional cuisine worth a special journey.”

Michelin Guides are now in more than twenty countries and carry enormous influence, often exerting a “make or break” situation for restaurants and their chefs.  Fortunes have been made and lost with Michelin star ratings.   At least one chef has committed suicide when a star was taken away, and there have been divorces, restaurant closures and bankruptcies as a result of demotions.

 In summary: 

~  Michelin only gives one, two or three stars.  I can’t tell you the number of times someone has told me they ate at a “five star Michelin restaurant.”  Not possible. 

~ Eating in a Michelin restaurant does not mean it has any stars.  It can be a restaurant simply listed in the Guide (level A above).

~ Michelin’s four levels of rankings need to be taken as simply an opinion.  There are many noteworthy restaurants not even listed in the Michelin Guide.  Furthermore, there are some really serious foodie restaurants listed in the Guide, but without any stars.  Lastly, I have dined at multiple three star restaurants that were disappointing on several levels including food, service, and ambiance.  Conversely, I have eaten at a multitude of one stars that rocked it and were worthy of two or three stars.

~To set the record straight, in the end it’s only your opinion of your dining experience that truly counts.

Wishing you lots of star-studded experiences in 2021!

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