Michelin Red Guide – A universally recognized restaurant ratings

michelinThe Michelin Guide is a series of annual guide books published by the French company Michelin for more than a dozen countries. The term normally refers to the Michelin Red Guide, the oldest and best-known European hotel and restaurant reference guide,  which awards Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments.

The acquisition or loss of a star can have dramatic effects on the success of a restaurant. Michelin also publishes a series of general guides to countries.

Michelin reviewers (commonly called “inspectors”) are completely anonymous; they do not identify themselves, and their meals and expenses are paid for by the company founded by the Michelin brothers, never by a restaurant being reviewed. In 2009 The New Yorker said:

Michelin has gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain the anonymity of its inspectors. Many of the company’s top executives have never met an inspector; inspectors themselves are advised not to disclose their line of work, even to their parents (who might be tempted to boast about it); and, in all the years that it has been putting out the guide, Michelin has refused to allow its inspectors to speak to journalists. The inspectors write reports that are distilled, in annual “stars meetings” at the guide’s various national offices, into the ranking of three stars, two stars, or one star—or no stars. (Establishments that Michelin deems unworthy of a visit are not included in the guide.)

The French chef Paul Bocuse, one of the pioneers of nouvelle cuisine in the 1960s, said, “Michelin is the only guide that counts.  In France, each year, at the time the guide is published, it sparks a media frenzy which has been compared to that for annual Academy Awards for films. Media and others debate likely winners, speculation is rife, and TV and newspapers discuss which restaurant might lose, and who might gain, a Michelin star.

The Michelin Guide also awards Rising Stars, an indication that a restaurant has the potential to qualify for a star, or an additional star.

So far, no restaurant from India has featured in this guide. There are several Indian Restaurants all over the world which have won Michelin’s stars but none from India. The most prominent reason could be that Michelin’s inspectors are yet to understand the nuances of authentic Indian cuisine. Indian restaurants in London, Geneva and NYC which have won Michelin stars serve Indian food which has gone thru the transformation to appeal to western palette.  Since the Michelin Rating Status is predisposed towards western cuisine; they are yet to develop an accurate understanding of Indian food.

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