The Michelin Star System

by Andre Stendahl

While there are a myriad of ways to rate the quality of restaurants in the modern era, ranging from extremely informal Yelp star reviews, to articles written by world-renowned critics, none quite compare to the Michelin Guide, an organization centered purely on rating the restaurants and hotels of the world.

The guide was first internationally distributed in 1904 by brothers Andre Edouard Michelin, the creators of the world-renowned French tire company, Michelin Tires in 1889. The guide was produced for car owners in France, giving information on restaurants, petrol stations and garages throughout the country. In 1920, the dining section of the guide became so popular that Michelin began to commercially publish the guide for the public. The 3-star rating system for restaurants was introduced 6 years later, with 3 stars being the absolute best a restaurant could obtain. Eventually, as the Michelin Guide kept gaining publicity, the Guide began to review restaurants and publish guides worldwide.

Today, the Michelin star system is arguably the most famous rating system for restaurants in the world. This is in part due to the system’s notorious reputation for being extremely critical towards restaurants all restaurants; if a restaurant obtains only one star it is a huge accolade, and many restaurants have been known to have drastic changes in popularity based on the gain or loss of a star. According to the Michelin Guide, a restaurant that has one star is ‘a very good restaurant in its own category.’ A restaurant that has two stars has ‘excellent cooking’ and is ‘worth a detour.’ A restaurant that has three stars has ‘exceptional cuisine, worth a special trip.’ These rating definitions have not changed since their debut in 1926, so keep in mind that these ratings were aimed at people driving around France – the rating definitions make much more sense.

Currently, the organization publishes a new guide each year with updated ratings of the world’s finest restaurants. As of 2018, there are 132 restaurants in the world with three stars, 27 of which are in France, and 29 of which are in Japan. To give some perspective, there are only 15 restaurants in the U.S., and only five in all of the United Kingdom!


Above: Picture of 3 michelin stars.


Above: Picture of Michelin Tires Company Mascot.


Above: Picture of Dish from French 3 star Michelin-rated restaurant Guy Savoy.