Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Living in the Upstate of South Carolina I have the happenstance of living just a few miles from the largest rubber plant in the world owned by Michelin Tire, site of the French Company's North American Headquarters. So, when I say to local friends that I "collect" Michelin Starred Restaurants they often look at me like a calf looking at a new gate. "What do tires have to do with food", they ask quizzically?
In the early Twentieth Century Michelin Tire started publishing maps in Europe. This in turn led to restaurant guide books. I had never heard of this until traveling with some English friends in my early twenties. My first experience with a Michelin Listed restaurant was in Vienna where I sampled Strawberry Ragout in a jet-lagged haze while being serenaded by a recording of Elvis on the radio. That same trip we stayed in a family owned chalet that was Michelin Listed in Bavaria. After each day of touring, we found ourselves racing back to eat in our hotel, the best food I'd ever had. If a restaurant has a Michelin Sticker, oh gosh, it's the best local food you could ask to eat.
Enter the Michelin Stars! If you have not watched the Helen Mirren Movie, "The Hundred Foot Journey," it is the best movie for any foodie. The theme of the movie is the search to garner the elusive Second Star. Starred Michelin Restaurants are just that, stars in the food firmament. In a Milky Way of millions of restaurants these are the North Star, Sirius and the like!
What is the big deal? What makes a meal worth hundreds of dollars? What makes a trip to a Michelin Starred Restaurant like a foodie trip to a football bowl game or a soccer World Cup? Truthfully, it has to be experienced. These 7-9 course meals are like walking through the Sistine Chapel or walking the Great Wall of China for a food enthusiast. Sustenance is elevated to art, service elevated to theater, and environment elevated to ultimate glamour. I learn more from one of these meals than pages and pages of cookbook study.
Enter Michelin Stars to America! Restaurants like Jean George and The Inn at Little Washington are the superstars of North America with 3 stars. Each year my wife and I try to eat at a starred restaurant. More if we make it overseas as they are much cheaper and prolific in many cities and towns. An illusion I've often heard is to Star Wars. If you are Michelin Listed you are a Jedi, one star, Obie Wan, two stars, Darth Vader, three, a Sith Lord. No sacrilege intended I've also heard; one star, St Paul, two stars, St. Peter and three, Jesus himself. I'm, not sure how humble that is but it tells you the gravity of the award in culinary circles.
Next time you take a vacation or are in need of a special celebration look up a Michelin Star in your area. No longer are the Michelin Guide Books needed. Of course in the 21st century there's an app for that!
You may ask what are some of the more interesting things I've eaten? Here are just a few; bull heart with cracklings, frogs legs with young onion soup, homemade marshmallows, duck bacon, and many more! And yes, they were fabulous!
Find out more on Michelin Guide's Website at https://guide.michelin.com/en