Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Surprising Origins of Michelin Stars

      As an automotive history buff, I’ve always been interested in finding interesting crossovers with other industries. Well, the story of the origin of the Michelin star rating system is one of the most interesting. The restaurants you and I go to usually have a five-star system. However, high cuisine establishments are usually rated using the Michelin star system, which allows a maximum of three stars to be awarded. It is an award that has existed for over a century and has a very strange origin.

      The Michelin star was the brainchild of Andre and Edouard Michelin, the same French brothers who founded the famous tire brand. Not only did it become the standard reference for fine dining establishments, but it was also a clever move by the brothers to carve out their own market.

      Here is a brief summary of what the three stars mean:

      • One Star : a very nice restaurant
      • two stars , Excellent dish worth a detour
      • three stars , An extraordinary dish that deserves a special trip

        It all started with the Michelin Guide, coined in 1900, which actually had little to do with fine dining and everything to do with automobiles. Karl Benz’s “3-Wheeled Benz Patent Car, Model No. 1”, which arrived in the late 19th century, was the first automobile to be built – or at least the first patented car. So the Michelin Guide was only intended to spark interest in the cars and tires that would soon follow. To give us an idea, there were barely hundreds of cars on the roads of France at that time.

        The first Michelin Guide did not include any restaurant rating system. In fact, the first printing of 35,000 copies included maps (with lists of restaurants, hotels and auto repair shops along the most frequented routes) and instructions on repairing and replacing tyres, and was distributed free of charge. They went. Although it contained information about restaurants, the first print run was printed to showcase the amenities available on the road and to influence readers to buy the car.

        Michelin Mascot In A Car Race

        Getty Images

        The correct classification of Michelin stars was not introduced until the 1920s, after World War I. The Michelin brothers wanted to improve upon the first edition, making all the content more complete and removing advertisements, so they began charging for the Asphalt Calendar. The first Michelin stars were awarded in 1926.

        The second edition of the Michelin Guide was limited to French restaurants, which could only receive one star. At first, having a Michelin star only meant that your restaurant was a “fine dining establishment”. It was not until 1931 that the system would be expanded from one to three stars. After settling in France, the guide would make another stop during World War II, as it included maps that would be useful to the Allied forces.

        Amazingly, the rating system did not gain relevance in the rest of the world until the early 2000s. For example, upon arrival in the United States, it focused only on fine dining establishments in New York, but over time it became more popular. Will expand to restaurants nationwide. From humble beginnings in France, the Michelin star system now recognizes restaurants in 37 countries across Europe, Asia, North and South America.

Nation World News Desk
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