for more than one hundred and fifteen years they inflame the world of gastronomy awaits and fears of their oracles. They exist, we know, but how much are they ? They are there, melted in the customer, incorruptible, and incognito but how to operate ? Their powers are immense, and their decrees without appeal, but is that their judgments are guided by a code, to a regulation ?
That so ? The inspectors of the Michelin Guide . Five questions to raise a corner of the veil on this secrecy.
How much are they ?
The exact figure remains top secret but, in the seraglio, it is estimated that they represent a body of 90 to 110 people. Profile : former chefs or ex-students of hotel schools that have five or ten years in the business. Once recruited, they follow a six-month training with inspectors confirmed.
“today, we have separate inspectors by their profiles and their countries of origin – we have 15 different nationalities in our teams – working on all of our publications. For a new guide, we assemble an international team that will provide consistency in expectations and judgments relative to our other guides, as well as a diversity of points of view,” says Gwendal Poullennec, the international development director of the Michelin Guide.
Where do they go ?
The bloodhounds of the Michelin track down the best tables in 27 countries around the world After having crossed the Atlantic in 2004 (publication of the Michelin guide New York City), they are off to explore Tokyo in 2006 (vintage 2008). Since then, the movement has accelerated : after a first destination in Latin America by 2015 (Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paulo), four new cities have found out the famous star and other Bib Gourmand in 2016 : Washington DC, Seoul, Shanghai and Singapore.
enter a new destination is a challenge. The team visited from top to bottom the country or the day before, in order to lay the groundwork to present a comprehensive view of the local cuisine.
How to operate ?
Arrival on site, the team is going to go spotting for a list of establishments to visit. To this end, it will rely on all available sources of information. “We have to recruit at the same time, local profiles that will assist us in this task. They are trained to become inspectors which will ensure future editions of the guide, and that may be, one day, called to their turn to launch a guide in another country,” says Gwendal Poullennec.
It is then that begins the field work : to visit the establishments identified, carve up the city to expand the list, listen to, and follow the locals to discover the essence of local gastronomy. It is this that has enabled Michelin to add the gastro-pubs in its guide to Great Britain and Ireland. This is because its inspectors have travelled tirelessly the streets of Singapore that Michelin is now able to offer the best of the street food.
The famous little red book is updated each year, their task is also to monitor the evolution of the restaurants listed in the previous edition and to discover new addresses that will enrich it.
How to note ?
they are on a mission to Paris, Seoul or Rio, the inspectors of the Michelin all use one and the same “reading grid” to judge the restaurants. These criteria respond to an imperative one : “The plate, the whole plate, just the plate”. These criteria are the number of five : the quality of the products; the control of cooking or flavors when the products are offered without cooking; the personality of the kitchen (that is to say, the turn of the hand of the chief); the regularity in the quality of the dishes proposed in its “Anthology of taste” published in 1826, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin pointed out already : “of all the qualities of a cook, the most indispensable is the accuracy” – and, finally, the report quality-price.
Contrary to what would like to the rumor, none of the other criteria does not interfere in the awarding of stars. Not even the standing of the institution, which is the subject of a specific note on a scale of 1 to 5, and ” covered “. The special quality of the service does not play no more, even if the inspector can make a particular spell in his commentary.
This is true, however, is that the inspectors pay their bill, do not take any notes during their meal and leave without greeting the chief or the director of the institution.
The number of distinction to be awarded is pre-determined ?
In any case, Gwendal Poullennec : “Our guides show the best places where they are found. One, or more, stars correspond to the same requirement on the part of our inspectors, regardless of the place”. When a guide is running, the number of restaurants that receive one or more stars, or any other distinction, is not determined in advance. Proof : the number of stars varies strongly from one destination to the other, and some do not yet have a restaurant 3 stars. To this day, they are only 112 restaurants in the world to be able to display the supreme award.
The edition 2017 recently published account 616-starred restaurants (one, two, or three stars), sixteen more than in 2016. Seventy tables to earn stars, while fifty-two lose one or more
Our guides show the best places where they are found. One, or more, stars correspond to the same requirement on the part of our inspectors, regardless of the place
It is therefore only a function of the grid of reading of the gastronome referred to above that are awarded, not only the stars that distinguish the elite of the chefs but also the words “Bib Gourmand” -which focuses on the price-quality ratio) or even the “Plates”.
that Emerged last year, these last refer to the gourmets and gourmands of the conservators capable of performing “a good meal, quite simply,” says Michelin. A-t-on to all saw flowering of the “Plates” on all fronts ? No, the badge is rare. An example : in the department of the Loire, only thirty-three restaurants have been honored in the past year, including three for the sole city of Saint-Galmier .