Just like the Goyas for Spanish films or the Grammies for music, the restaurant sector also has a leading recognition: The Michelin Star.
The Michelin star is an idea that has been around for more than 100 years and is part of the tyre manufacturer’s marketing strategy.
From 1900, when the first Michelin Guide was launched, to the present day, substantial changes have occurred in the publication.
At first, the guide was a gift for the buyers of the tires. It served to give advice on routes, where to eat, accommodation and service stops for the cars. It only focused on France, the country where the initiative was born.
In 1926, in response to restaurant owners who began to feel uncomfortable about not appearing in the guide, the star rating was established. By 1936 a star rating was assumed. The minimum being 1 star and the maximum 3.
Thus, little by little, the creation of the brothers André and Edouard Michelin established itself as the maximum recognition in the restaurant sector, with the capacity to transform the life of any chef and food establishment.
Although all the spotlights focus on restaurants with stars, or starred as they are known, the guide also includes restaurants that-even if they don’t have stars-are of superior quality.
What will you find in this article?
What is a Michelin star?
As we have mentioned, the Michelin stars are the classification system used in the guide of the same name to categorize restaurants around the world.
The process of recognition with a Michelin star is in the hands of 85 people, 12 of whom are assigned to Spain.
These people with the inspectors who, although working under deep secrecy, have the knowledge and preparation necessary to evaluate any restaurant in the world.
Each inspector is responsible for sitting down to eat, on average, at 800 restaurants in his or her region. From this process, about 1,100 reports are made, giving the experience at each of their stops along 30,000 km.
The activities of each inspector, both in restaurants and hotels, are covered up. In addition, they are responsible for paying your bills to prevent a restaurant from attempting to bribe you or receive any favours in return for your invitation.
In case you are discovered or the restaurant suspects that one of its diners is a Michelin Guide inspector, the most recommended thing to do is to act naturally and serve you as you would any other person who walks through the door of the restaurant.
They have a reputation for being incorruptible, strict and straightforward in their work. They have a clear idea of what they have to do and will do it smoothly.
Meaning of the stars
A restaurant in the world can receive a maximum of three stars. It’s an annual process.
Stars are not for life, so if a restaurant is downgraded in quality, you will also see it lose Michelin recognition.
Each rung of the ladder to Michelin fame has the following meaning:
- 1 star: Very good cuisine. Firm proposal. It is worth stopping to eat there.
- 2 stars: Exceptional cuisine. If the restaurant is not on your route, it is worth making a detour to enjoy their dishes.
- 3 stars: The highest category is awarded to restaurants with a unique proposal. Just eating there is worth the whole trip, regardless of how far away it is from your current location.
In order to obtain a star, the restaurant is visited on different occasions by the inspectors of its location. In each of their visits, the results must be constant.
The first Michelin star requires a visit from four inspectors. To reach the two stars, they receive up to 10 visits from the inspectors.
To reach the third star, for the meaning of this distinction, the establishment must be visited by the inspectors of your country and the inspectors of France. The result must be unanimous. If any of them do not agree, they will not receive the third star.
In addition to the stars, the Michelin Guide awards the Bib Gourmand, which identifies good restaurants with prices for all budgets, and the Michelin Dish, the latest distinction for high-quality kitchens.
Step by step of a Michelin star inspection
The official Michelin Guide website clearly explains the inspection process for each of the restaurants.
This process is standardized and respected by every Michelin inspector, no matter where they are in the world or what type of restaurant they plan to visit.
Let’s see how the Michelin inspection process is to grant your recognition:
This first guideline is considered the golden rule of inspection
Inspectors will attend and evaluate, anonymously, the establishment, service, comfort and – above all – focus on reviewing the food being served.
After paying the bill, if they wish or need to obtain information in addition to that collected during their work, the inspector may disclose their identity to those responsible for the premises they are visiting.
An important element for the Michelin Guide, in the age of communication 2.0, is the feedback it receives from hundreds of people via email. Their feelings are taken into account when planning a visit to any space.
The maxim of the Michelin Guide is to offer quality information to its readers, free of corporate or personal interests.
To this end, the entire process of visits by inspectors and the decisions they make are independent. They will obey your criteria, professionalism and correct application of the guide’s rules.
Editorial decisions are taken collectively and, in the case of major decisions and awards, are discussed on European territory.
The best is chosen
Regardless of the country, region or location of the restaurant, if you deserve the distinction you will receive it.
The Michelin Guide brings together the best of the world’s cuisine and focuses all its efforts on it.
This rule is evidenced by the one Michelin star recognition of the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle restaurant in Thailand, a street food stand that prepares dishes up to $2.
The preparation of the Hong Kong style soy chicken, cooked more than 35 years ago by Chan Hon Meng, surprised the inspectors and gave him the recognition.
Again, the Guide focuses on the reader and wants to give each of them the most up-to-date information.
To achieve this, the review of each award and recognition is done every year. At the end of the year, the restaurants may be ratified in their current position, receive a new recognition and – in the worst cases – lose one of those received.
The rules are clear and all inspectors, anywhere in the world or in any type of restaurant, will evaluate and classify the same aspects.
The culture, type of restaurant, version of cuisine or knowledge of the chef; does not change the basis of assessment. It is always the same.
Requirements to be a Michelin star
So far we have been on the side of the Michelin Guide, as an organization that offers recognition to the restaurant sector.
But what does a restaurant have to have to be recognized with a Michelin star? We tell you all about it below.
The restaurant must be part of the community. It must not be an isolated entity.
The inspectors take into account where the ingredients are purchased, the relationship of the restaurant with the farmers and producers in the area.
The use of ingredients native to each area in the preparation of the dishes will also be assessed.
The cheeses, breads and meats must also come from the community. The idea is to promote the sustained development of the area where any establishment is located.
Each dish, which comes from the kitchen of a Michelin-starred restaurant, is the same as the other.
The quality of each dish, the perfect application of the technique and the high standards of cooking must be maintained.
A restaurant cannot be exceptional from time to time, depending on the season or the mood of the team.
This is the main reason why everyone is visited at different times.
The trend in presentation is taken into account by each inspector
Based on the expression “we eat with our eyes”, a special weight is given to the form chosen to present each dish.
The ingredients must invite to eat and the disposition in the dish must border on perfection.
The chef’s creativity and innovation gives each restaurant’s kitchen an unmistakable personality.
This is one of the aspects most appreciated by the inspectors.
The differentiating element of a dish, which is prepared by hundreds of restaurants anywhere in the world, is an aspect to be recognized.
Chefs, like men of science, should never stop studying their profession. Otherwise, they will stagnate, while the world evolves.
It is important to get in touch with the world of cooking, go to the roots, explore new cooking methods, ingredients, ways of preparation, among other elements.
When a chef transforms a common dish, the Michelin Guide inspectors welcome it.
The Michelin star is focused on the kitchen, it’s true, but it’s a team effort and the whole restaurant participates in its gain or loss.
Customer service, so important for all diners around the world, is another aspect that the Michelin inspector takes into account when visiting a restaurant.
The level of service personnel, knowledge of each dish on the menu, the treatment of each customer and the cleanliness of the premises are all aspects that an inspector will take into account and will take into account in his technical report.
Michelin stars in Spain
In the online version of the Michelin Guide, we find 1,311 Spanish restaurants with some brand recognition.
These establishments are allocated as follows:
- 3 Michelin stars: 11 restaurants.
- 2 Michelin stars: 29 restaurants.
- 1 Michelin star: 173 restaurants.
- Big Gourmand recognition: 265 restaurants.
- El Plato Michelin: 833 restaurants.
In the first five places, according to the number of recognized restaurants in a region, we have:
- Catalonia: 282 restaurants.
- Andalusia: 154 restaurants.
- Community of Madrid: 136 restaurants.
- Community of Valencia: 125 restaurants.
- Galicia: 106 restaurants.
With all the Spanish restaurants with Michelin recognition, our country is in the fifth step of the ten countries with more Michelin stars in the world.
This table is headed by Japan, with France in second place. Italy in the third and Germany in the fourth.
After Spain, we have Great Britain in the sixth place, the United States in the seventh, Belgium in the eighth, Switzerland in the ninth and closes Holland in the tenth place of countries with more Michelin awards.