Michelin Guide

Michelin Guide
New York City 2006
First Michelin Red Guide for North America

The Michelin Guide (French: Guide Michelin, IPA: [gid miʃlɛ̃]) is a series of annual guide books published by Michelin for over a dozen countries. The term normally refers to the Michelin Red Guide, the oldest and best-known European hotel and restaurant guide, which awards the Michelin stars. Michelin also publishes Green Guides for travel and tourism, as well as several newer publications such as the Guide Voyageur Pratique (independent travel), Guide Gourmand (good-value eating-places), Guide Escapade (quick breaks) and Guide Coup de Cœur (favourite hotels).



The front cover of a 1929 edition of the Michelin Guide.

André Michelin published the first edition of the guide in 1900 to help drivers maintain their cars, find decent lodging, and eat well while touring France. It included addresses of filling stations, mechanics, and tire dealers, along with local prices for fuel, tires, and auto repairs.

The guide was distributed free from 1900 until 1920. The Michelin brothers began charging for the guides to establish more credibility after a pile of them were found propping up a garage workbench.[citation needed] The guide began recognizing outstanding restaurants in 1926 by marking their listings with a star; two and three stars were added in the early 1930s.

Gradually, additional guides were introduced for other European countries. By 2010, eight Red Guides were published for the countries of France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium/Luxembourg, Italy, Spain & Portugal, Switzerland, and Great Britain & Ireland.

Red Guides have historically listed many more restaurants than rivals, relying on an extensive system of symbols to describe each establishment in as little as two lines. Reviews of starred restaurants also include two to three culinary specialities. Recently, however, short summaries (2–3 lines) have been added to enhance descriptions of many establishments. These summaries are written in the language of the country for which the guide is published, but the symbols are the same throughout all editions.

Red Guides are also published for selected major cities: Paris, London, Tokyo, Kyoto/Osaka, Hong Kong & Macau, New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Las Vegas. There is also a Red Guide encompassing the "Main Cities of Europe."[1][2][3][4]

In 2008, German restaurateur Juliane Caspar was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the French edition of the Red Guide.[5] She is the first woman and first non-French national to edit the French edition.[6]

Michelin stars and other ratings


Frantzén/Lindeberg, restaurant in Gamla stan (Old town), Stockholm. In 2010, it received two stars in Guide Michelin, one of currently two two-starred restaurants in Sweden (the other being Mathias Dahlgren) and four in the Nordic countries.

The guide awards one to three stars to a small number of restaurants of outstanding quality. One star indicates a "very good cuisine in its category", a two-star ranking represents "excellent cuisine, worth a detour," and three stars are awarded to restaurants offering "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey". A three-star Michelin ranking is rare. As of late 2009, there were 26 three-star restaurants in France, and only 81 in the world.[7]

Rising stars

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

Bib Gourmand

Since 1955, the guide has also highlighted restaurants offering "good food at moderate prices", a feature now called "Bib Gourmand". They must offer menu items priced below a maximum determined by local economic standards. Bib (Bibendum) is the company's nickname for the Michelin Man, its corporate logo for over a century.

Other ratings

All listed restaurants, regardless of their star- or Bib Gourmand-status, also receive a "fork and spoon" designation, as a subjective reflection of the overall comfort and quality of the restaurant.[8] Rankings range from one to five: One fork and spoon represents a "comfortable restaurant" and five signifies a "luxurious restaurant". Forks and spoons colored red designate a restaurant that is considered "pleasant" as well.

Restaurants, independently of their other ratings in the guide, can also receive a number of other symbols next to their listing.

  • Coins indicate restaurants that serve a menu for a certain price or less, depending on the local monetary standard.[8] In 2010 France, 2011 US and Japan Red Guides, the maximum permitted "coin" prices are €19, $25, and ¥5000, respectively.
  • Interesting view or Magnificent view, designated by a black or red symbol, are given to restaurants offering those features.
  • Grapes, a sake set, or a cocktail glass indicate restaurants that offer, at minimum, a "somewhat interesting" selection of wines, sake, or cocktails, respectively.[8]
Country[9] Release date Michelin star.gif Michelin star.gif Michelin star.gif Michelin star.gif Michelin star.gif Michelin star.gif Bib Gourmand Establishments
Great Britain & Ireland 1 February 2010[10][11] 4 14 122 131 (£28 or €40) >1,900 hotels, guest houses, >2,000 restaurants, pubs
Italy 14 December 2010[12] 6 37 233 4,163 hotels, etc., 2,313 restaurants
Netherlands 25 November 2010[13] 2 13 83 97 (€35) 643 restaurants, 566 hotels
Switzerland 18 November 2010[14] 2 16 75 79 (€35) 666 restaurants, 871 hotels
Spain & Portugal 14 December 2010[15] 7 15 128 232 (€35) 2,806 hotels, etc., 1,975 restaurants and bars
Germany 12 November 2010[16] 9 23 205 386 (€35) 1,598 restaurants, 4,287 hotels
France 4 March 2010[17] 26 77 455 555 (€29, €35 in Paris area) 4,104 hotels, 515 guest houses, 3,453 restaurants
Belgium & Luxembourg 25 November 2010[18] 2 15 98 131 (€35) 985 restaurants, 673 hotels
City[9] Release date Michelin star.gif Michelin star.gif Michelin star.gif Michelin star.gif Michelin star.gif Michelin star.gif Bib Gourmand Establishments
Paris 4 March 2010[17] 10 13 41 65 (€29, €35 in Paris area) 60 hotels, 424 restaurants
San Francisco 26 October 2011[19] 2 6 39 77 ($40) 541 restaurants
New York City 4 October 2011[20] 7 9 46 114 ($40) 805 restaurants
Chicago 18 November 2010[21] 2 3 18 46 ($40) 342 restaurants, 39 hotels
Las Vegas (suspended) 21 October 2008[22] 1 3 13 127 restaurants, 30 hotels (2007)
Los Angeles (suspended) 21 October 2008[23] 0 4 16 263 restaurants, 27 hotels (2007)
London 1 February 2010[24] 2 7 40 30 (£28) 450 restaurants, 50 hotels
Kyoto, Osaka, & Kobe 22 October 2010[25] 12 46 185 40 (coins, ¥5000) 239 restaurants, 42 hotels, 31 ryokans
Tokyo, Yokohama, & Kamakura 27 November 2010[26] 14 54 198 95 (coins, ¥5000) 266 restaurants, 46 hotels
Hong Kong & Macau 2 December 2010[27] 4 12 53 50 (300 HKD/MOP) 253 restaurants, 56 hotels
Main Cities of Europe 17 March 2010[28] 15 55 271 231 1,715 restaurants, 1,542 hotels

A list in 2007 is also available from Michelin.[29]

Green Guides

The Green Guides review and rate attractions other than restaurants. There is a Green Guide for France as a whole, and a more detailed one for each of ten regions within France. Other Green Guides cover many countries, regions, and cities outside France. Many Green Guides are published in several languages. They include background information and an alphabetical section describing points of interest. Like the Red Guides, they use a three-star system for recommending sights ranging from "worth a trip" to "worth a detour", and "interesting".


In 2003 Bernard Loiseau, a prominent chef with a history of bipolar disorder, committed suicide. Rumors had circulated that his widely-admired restaurant Côte d'Or in Saulieu, Burgundy, was in danger of a downgrade by Michelin from three to two stars. It was later shown that Loiseau knew he was keeping his third star, but was despondent over decreasing patronage at his restaurant. Michelin still received blame in some accounts, however.[30]

Allegations of lax inspection standards

Pascal Rémy, a veteran France-based Michelin inspector, and also a former Gault Millau employee, wrote a tell-all book in 2004 entitled L'Inspecteur se Met à Table (literally, "The Inspector Sits Down at the Table"; idiomatically, "The Inspector Spills the Beans", or "The Inspector Puts It All on the Table").

Rémy described the French Michelin inspector's life as lonely, underpaid drudgery, driving around France for weeks on end, dining alone, under intense pressure to file detailed reports on strict deadlines. He claimed the Guide had become lax in its standards. Though Michelin states that its inspectors visited all 4,000 reviewed restaurants in France every 18 months, and all starred restaurants several times a year, Rémy said only about one visit every 3.5 years was possible because there were only 11 inspectors in France when he was hired, rather than the 50 or more hinted by Michelin. That number, he said, had shrunk to five by the time he was fired in 2003.

Furthermore, Rémy charged, the Guide played favourites. He specifically named Paul Bocuse, the pioneer of nouvelle cuisine, whose restaurant, l'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, near Lyon, was known, according to Rémy, to have declined considerably in quality, yet continued to hold 3 stars.[30] Michelin denied Rémy's charges, but refused to say how many inspectors it actually employed in France. In response to Rémy's claim that certain 3-star chefs were untouchable, Michelin said only, "...if [our ratings] weren't true...customers would write and tell us."[31] Rémy's employment was terminated when he informed Michelin of his plans to publish his book. He brought a court case for unfair dismissal, which was unsuccessful.[32]

Accusations of bias

As the Michelin Guide is published by a French company, some American food critics have claimed that the rating system is biased in favor of French cuisine or French dining standards. When Michelin published its first New York City Red Guide, for example, Steven Kurutz of The New York Times noted that Danny Meyer's Union Square Cafe, a restaurant rated highly by The New York Times, Zagat Survey, and other prominent guides, received a no star-rating from Michelin. (He did acknowledge that the restaurant received positive mention for its ambiance, and that two other restaurants owned by Meyer received stars.) Kurutz also claimed the guide appeared to favor restaurants that "emphasized formality and presentation" rather than a "casual approach to fine dining". He also claimed that over half of the restaurants that received one or two stars "could be considered French".[33]

Further reading

  • Trois étoiles au Michelin: Une histoire de la haute gastronomie française et européenne, by Jean-François Mesplède and Alain Ducasse, ISBN 2-7000-2468-0. Follows the 60-odd chefs who have been awarded three stars.
  • The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine, by Rudolph Chelminski, ISBN 9780141021935. The story of Bernard Loiseau.
  • From behind the wall: Danish Newspaper 'Berlingske' Employee 'Awards'


  1. ^ Tokyo shines with 227 Michelin stars
  2. ^ Michelin Gives Stars, but Tokyo Turns Up Nose nytimes.com. Retrieved on 24 February 2008.
  3. ^ ミシュランガイド東京、2010年版は和食が充実
  4. ^ Michelin Guide Gives 3 Stars to 11 Tokyo Restaurants
  5. ^ Connolly, Kate (17 December 2008). "German woman appointed as editor of Michelin Guide". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/dec/17/foodanddrink-germany. Retrieved 20 December 2008. 
  6. ^ Schofield, Hugh (20 December 2008). "German woman edits Michelin guide". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7792384.stm. Retrieved 20 December 2008. 
  7. ^ The New Yorker, 23 November 2009, p. 44
  8. ^ a b c How to Use This Guide, Michelin, accessdate=20101222.
  9. ^ a b (French) "Achetez en ligne votre Guide MICHELIN Europe", Michelin.
  10. ^ "Michelin Guide Announces Great Britain and Ireland Stars for 2010", Michelin North America, 18 January 2010.
  11. ^ (English) Harry Wallop "Michelin Guide 2010: UK has more starred restaurants than ever before", The Daily Telegraph, 15 Jan 2010.
  13. ^ "MICHELIN Guide Netherlands 2011", Michelin, 26 November 2010.
  14. ^ "Michelin Stars Rain Down on Switzerland", Michelin, 16 November 2010.
  15. ^ "THE MICHELIN GUIDE SPAIN & PORTUGAL 2011", Michelin North America, 26 November 2010.
  16. ^ "THE MICHELIN GUIDE GERMANY 2011 - FEATURES FIVE NEW TWO-STAR RESTAURANTS", Michelin North America, 10 November 2010.
  17. ^ a b "The Michelin Guide France 2010 Selection", Michelin North America, 1 March 2010.
  18. ^ "MICHELIN guide Belgium-Luxembourg 2011", Michelin, 22 November 2010.
  19. ^ "Bay Area Restaurants Shine in 2012 Michelin Guide", Michelin North America, 25 October 2011.
  20. ^ "Michelin Welcomes 2 New 3-Star Restaurants for 2012", Michelin North America, 4 October 2011.
  22. ^ Jinae West "Michelin: Bad economy means no 2010 guide in Las Vegas, Las Vegas Sun, 26 June 2009.
  23. ^ Phil Vettel "And the crystal ball says …", Michelin North America, 16 November 2010.
  24. ^ Guide MICHELIN Londres 2010, Michelin. accessdate=2011-11-30
  25. ^ (Japanese) ”「ミシュランガイド京都・大阪・神戸2011」12 軒のレストランが三つ星 44軒のレストランと2軒の旅館 が二つ星 183軒のレストランと2軒の旅館が一つ星”, Michelin Japan, 19 October 2010.
  26. ^ (Japanese) "「ミシュランガイド東京・横浜・鎌倉2011」を発行 三つ星が14軒、二つ星が54軒、一つ星が198軒に", Michelin Japan, 24 November 2010.
  27. ^ (Japanese) "「ミシュランガイド香港・マカオ2011」を発行", Michelin Japan, 12 March 2010.
  28. ^ "MICHELIN GUIDE MAIN CITIES OF EUROPE 2010 TO GO ON SALE ON MARCH 17", Michelin, 16 March 2010. covering Austria (Vienna, Salzburg) - Belgium (Brussels, Antwerp) - Czech Republic (Prague) - Denmark (Copenhagen) - Finland (Helsinki) - France (Paris, Lyons, Strasbourg, Toulouse) - Germany (Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart) - Greece (Athens) - Hungary (Budapest) - Ireland (Dublin) - Italy (Rome, Milan, Turin, Florence) - Luxembourg (Luxembourg) - Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague) - Norway (Oslo) - Poland (Warsaw, Cracow) - Portugal (Lisbon) - Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia) - Sweden (Stockholm, Gothenburg) – Switzerland (Bern, Geneva, Zurich) - United Kingdom (London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow)
  29. ^ "Michelin Guides 2007 By the Numbers", Michelin North America, 28 March 2007.
  30. ^ a b Rémy, Pascal (2004). L'inspecteur se met à table. Equateur. ISBN 2-84990-006-0. 
  31. ^ The New Yorker, 23 November 2009, p. 47-8
  32. ^ Michelin Red Guide: Cooked Story on "Brand Channel" includes discussion of Pascal Rémy case. Retrieved 11 October 2006
  33. ^ Kurutz, Steven (13 November 2005). "She's a Belle of the City, but the French Are Blasé". nytimes.com. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/13/nyregion/thecity/13cafe.html. Retrieved 15 September 2006. 

External links

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