Michelin Restaurants and Michelin Stars: How it all Works

At President Cruises, we’ve recruited help from celebrity chef John Burton-Race to craft our Michelin standard menu. As a multi-Michelin Star holder with a background in global cuisine, we knew John would be the man for the job.

Being awarded a Michelin Star is the gold standard for restaurants, indicating exceptional, world-class dining. They are so well regarded amongst the industry that Gordon Ramsey reportedly cried when he lost one at his New York restaurant, stating that it was, “like losing a girlfriend.”

But what is a Michelin Star exactly? And how does one receive one?

Stemming from unassuming roots, the Michelin in Michelin Star does in fact come from Michelin, the tire company. It started back in 1900, when the UK-based tire manufacturers launched their first guidebook, encouraging people to take a road trip in France.

This expanded in 1926 when they recruited anonymous reviewers to go out and try different restaurants. To this day Michelin still uses the anonymous reviewer approach, where each reviewer must blend in with the scenery and not make themselves known. Their system has changed a little over the years, however.

As Michelin are somewhat understaffed (one former inspector revealed that, at the time, there were just seven in the whole of the US) there have been a few extra steps added.

First of all, food websites and blogs are combed for the best-reviewed restaurants and added to a pile. A scout will later be sent out to dine in the restaurants that have been dug up and if it’s outstandingly good, a memo will be sent to an inspector. If the inspector finds it remarkable too, the restaurant will likely be visited again, and maybe, if lucky, awarded a star.

While the rules may have changed a little bit since the introduction of the star system in 1931 (though Michelin claim that it is still the same), the established rules are supposed to be as follows:

One star: A good place to stop if you’re passing by, offering cuisine cooked to a consistently high standard.

Two stars: Worth a detour, indicating excellently prepared cuisine, skilfully and carefully crafted dishes or an outstanding quality.

Three stars: A restaurant worthy of a special journey, indicating exceptional cuisine, where diners can enjoy a superbly crafted meal.

Though, as suggested before, it is popularly believed that these rules have deviated a little. This is backed, somewhat, by the amount restaurants that currently hold stars. In the GB and Ireland Guide, for example, there are just five restaurants with three stars, 20 restaurants with two stars and 150 with one star – suggesting that there are just 150 restaurants in GB and Ireland worth popping into if you’re passing by.

Michelin fought back against claims that their standards were somewhat pretentious or French-centric in 2016, when they awarded a one-star rating to two Singaporean hawker food stalls, where diners line up to buy meals for just $2.00.

While there are certain criteria that a restaurant must uphold, such as their location, which has to be within the boundaries of a Michelin guide (currently any restaurant in Hanoi would, for example, be off limits) a Michelin star remains the highest point of nobility for any restaurant.

While restaurants in Hanoi or Halong Bay obtaining a Michelin Star might currently be out of the question, Michelin Star standard dining is still well within reach. If you cruise with President Cruises, you’ll see this for yourself.

— Explore a Michelin Star Journey in the World Heritage Site —

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