Nothing finishes off a trip abroad like an extraordinary meal. A meal that will come to mind every time you look at the photos of your trip. The big challenge is to find a restaurant worth remembering. The Michelin Red Guide is the gustatory guide for every discriminating traveller and with its highly valued recommendations; it is a mandatory travel companion in a new city.
Text by Estelle Ryan
Michelin gave these little red books – a veritable goldmine of practical information - to their motorists for the first time in 1900. The first book only covered France, but it was not long before editions followed covering other countries. By 1920 it was decided that establishments would only be recommended by merit and no longer through advertising; it was then that the first Michelin inspectors started anonymously frequenting restaurants in order to rate them.
By the 1933 issue, France had 23 restaurants that had received the honoured three stars, including the Tour d’Argent in Paris which successfully maintained its hold on all three stars for nearly 70 years. Today the Michelin guide has 17 titles to choose from, guiding you to the best restaurants from San Francisco to Tokyo. The frequent inspections by Michelin’s team of inspectors guarantee that you won’t visit a restaurant that has gone to the dogs due to a change of management or kitchen staff.
These inspectors have always been a topic of great discussion and speculation. With more than a century’s experience in evaluating and recommending restaurants and hotels to guide them, the evaluation process has been honed to identify consistently high quality establishments. Michelin employs full time inspectors to anonymously visit these places and evaluate them on a range of criteria. In an average year, an inspector will eat 240 test meals, make 130 overnight inspections of restaurants and might pay up to 800 inspection visits to hotels and restaurants. Amazingly enough, there are inspectors who claim to have never put on any weight. They do, however, go for regular medical check-ups and six monthly cholesterol checks. What a job!