What is it about that little red book? Every year in the fall, metropolitan Chefs, Sommeliers and many other fine dining hospitality professionals anticipate one phone call.
“Did we or didn’t we? ” “Did we keep our star?” “Did we earn a star?” “Did we earn a bib gourmand?” “What is a spoon & fork?”
These are questions I’ve heard during the last few weeks.
I am describing of course, the Michelin guide. A booklet created in 1900 to promote motor cars and travel in France by two brothers; Edouard and Andre Michelin. The original book included a map, instructions on how to change tires, hotel accommodations and restaurant recommendations. In 1926 the guide started awarding stars to restaurants and in 1930 the starred ranking had finally gained notoriety throughout Europe. In 2005 the Michelin guide first appeared in America focusing on New York City reviewing and ranking 500 restaurant, 50 hotels in all 5 boroughs. Quite the select few. The Michelin guide currently also reviews Chicago and San Francisco.
I’ve been spoiled with Michelin meals and equally haunted by Michelin expectations for, I hate to age myself, but for 10 years. I know that I would not appreciate the art of fine dining and culinary if I was not a participant in the presentation of such an exquisite display of artistic talent.
The many Chefs, Sommeliers and the other fine dining hospitality professionals will vary on their opinion of the Michelin guide and other food rating publications, for better and for worse, for many reasons. That will always be true. Let us be realistic, though. Once in that little red book, there is a feeling of glory, internal satisfaction and external accomplishment that our hard work has been anonymously recognized; and that recognition is worldwide.