In this edition of B, we look at the Michelin Guide, the pioneer behind the popularization of quality dining. For over a century, the Michelin Guide has introduced and evaluated major restaurants around the world using its starring system. It was created by the Michelin brothers, who owned a small tire manufacturing company in a small city in France, to encourage travel by car. The starring system was officially adopted in 1933, and the makers of the Michelin Guide have continued to review restaurants in line with rigorous internal standards.
The Michelin Guide has long been regarded as the bible of culinary travel: every year countless chefs await the annual Michelin Guide results like students waiting to hear university admissions results. Restaurants that earn the coveted three-star rating become must-visit destinations for enthusiastic gourmands. The enduring authority of the Michelin Guide, peerless in the restaurant industry, is all the more fascinating considering Michelin is a tire maker by trade. Most restaurant reviews are written up by food-related magazines, associations or brands. Michelin’s business is thus utterly unique. The company enlists the services of critics whose identities are kept strictly anonymous and covers the costs of travel expenses and meals. This allows for objectivity and a purity of approach that distinguishes Michelin’s reviews from those of reputation-minded critics or self-important media outlets.