Michelin Starred Restaurants – Not Chefs!

I get asked a lot what a chef or restaurant actually has to do/be to gain a Michelin star so here are a few facts to clear it up…

It might be hard to believe but there isn’t such thing as a Michelin starred chef, it’s the restaurant that holds the star(s) not the chef. It’s a team of chefs that work at a restaurant not just the head chef so collectively they contribute to the restaurant gaining a star.

Influencing factors

Michelin stars are given based on the following factors:
Quality of ingredients
Skill involved in preparation
Combination of flavours
Level of creativity
Value for money
Consistency of culinary standards

Previously I thought that deco, ambiance and the waiting and sommelier service were influencing factors but in fact this is incorrect. It’s solely down to the food.

Any one restaurant can hold up to a maximum of 3 stars.

Other awards are AA rosettes which also show the standard of a great restaurant. Usually a restaurant that holds 3 rosettes has a high potential to gain a Michelin star. 3 rosettes is also a significant achievement for any restaurant, however, there are restaurants that hold 3 and 4 rosettes and no stars. This could be where stars have been lost or indeed never gained.

For example Adam Reid at the French in Manchester has been awarded an impressive 4 rosettes but they still haven’t gained their star. The French is also considered the 13th best restaurant in the UK!

A star can be extremely lucrative to a restaurant business “gaining a Michelin star can add an average of 30% to a restaurants takings” states Big Hospitality.

How it works

The Michelin guide send 80 inspectors anonymously to eat out in 250 restaurants. There are 800 inspections a year – yes they have great jobs!! They eat a meal and make a report. This is top secret and the inspectors can’t even share where they are dining with their family and friends! A restaurant is visited every 18 months by the Michelin guide, unless they receive a specific complaint or a restaurant is flagged to lose or gain a star, in which case they will visit more frequently.

If a star is to be removed or awarded they will visit as many times as needed to monitor consistency. The difference it makes to a business is notable so they take this very seriously.

Losing a star can be devastating for chefs who have worked tirelessly to gain one for their restaurant – some would say its almost not worth having one in the first place! When Gordon Ramsey lost two stars he admitted he actually cried.

Here’s a fact – Gordon Ramsey is actually the highest paid chef.

French chef Joel Robuchon is the most rewarded chef with his restaurants totalling 31 stars.
Alain Ducasse had 21 stars
Gordon Ramsay totals 16 stars
Thomas Keller 7 stars and Heston Blumenthal 6 stars.

I read an article which said “forget white table cloths and uptight service, michelin starred restaurants are sociable sophisticated and relaxing” – this I would 100% agree with. In my experience the waiting staff are personable and happy to chat, not over formal and stiff, they just know how to execute a flawless service making you feel very comfortable and having an impeccable knowledge on what they are presenting to you. This dining scene to me is such a luxurious treat you come away feeling indulged and special, it’s worth the few extra quid!

Things are changing and that classic idea of a Michelin starred restaurant is diminishing slightly with more influence on what it’s all about – the food! And less on the posh establishment.

I read this article which suggests a few London eateries which don’t have that stiff image at all… in fact quite the opposite – and might I add Barafina to this list, where you stand up and wait for a free bar stool eating delicious tapas watching the chefs cook at the bar in front of you!