Everything you need to know about Michelin stars
The Michelin guide is a guide booked published by Michelin tyre company every year. It started as a book for French motorists which would provide them with various information about tyre repair locations, mechanics, petrol stations, hotels and restaurants. As the years have gone on (since the early 1900s) the restaurant section became more and more respected so eventually the Michelin brothers recruited some inspectors to visit and review restaurants and so began the process of awarding stars for fine dining establishments.
Michelin inspectors are anonymous, they do not make themselves known when they are eating. While working in Michelin star restaurants we were always on the look out for potential Michelin inspectors. It is a common misconception that it will be a lone middle-aged man eating with a clipboard and a magnifying glass. Sometime after they visit they will post photos to the Michelin guide Instagram so you know they have been in after the event. The chefs then spend hours dissecting the potential service that they were there for and trying to make sure nothing could have gone wrong.
The reason for not letting the restaurants know they are being inspected is because in order to have a Michelin star the service must be consistently of a high standard. Someone should be able to dine in that restaurant any day of the week any month of the year and always have an excellent meal. Because of this, some restaurants will be inspected a number of times over the year. Especially if they are potentially in the running for 2 or even 3 Michelin stars.
In my opinion 1 star is awarded for really tasty food, 2 stars are awarded for greater detail and usually more premium ingredients and the highest accolade which is 3 Michelin stars is basically a life changing experience and a meal you will remember for the rest of your life.
It is a common misconception that Michelin star restaurants are super posh with over the top service and waiters wearing white gloves. Don’t get me wrong if you go to the Ritz then that is quite likely what you will experience however it is not always the case anymore. The most famous example of a casual restaurant receiving a Michelin star is in Singapore. In fact, it was not even a restaurant it was a simple hawker stall in the Singapore food markets which received a Michelin star in 2016 for its famous soya chicken rice and noodles. Most 1 star restaurants do not require a certain dress code and can be really quite casual these days.
In very rare occasions, some chefs have been known to not even want their Michelin stars – the pressure and expectations can be too much to handle and some would prefer not to be held to account. Sebastien Bras famously was awarded 3 Michelin stars which he managed to keep for over 10 years but he decided the pressure to continue holding them was no longer fun and he wanted to cook “with a free spirit and without stress”. So he informed Michelin that he would be handing back his stars. This is, of course, very rare as majority of chefs would be over the moon to receive such a prestigious award.
In the UK we only have 8 restaurants that have been awarded 3 Michelin stars – most recently my ex-boss Simon Rogan joined that list with his restaurant L’Enclume in the Lake District.
During lockdown 2020 the hospitality industry suffered hugely with all of the restaurant closures and so many Michelin star restaurants started offering Michelin star deliveries. Whereby the customer would receive everything cooked in boxes and then just re-heat and plate it up at home. You could even receive a meal-kit from Core by Clare Smyth – Clare Smyth was awarded 3 Michelin stars that year so it really was fine dining takeaways to the extreme.
Indulge’s was started in lockdown alongside the previously mentioned Michelin star restaurants as a way of bringing the Michelin fine dining experience home. The market for such a product has been hugely popular even in the post-pandemic world. Fine dining meal-kits are great for parents with young children – high quality food and a real treat but without having to think about babysitters. It is also just a great alternative to a takeaway for people who are real foodies – it takes away all the hassle of buying a million ingredients and there is no need to spend all day in the kitchen to eat a wonderful meal.