Washington, D.C. To Get Michelin Guide
"One Michelin star is good. Two is amazing. Three is only for the gods."
-Madame Mallory (played by Helen Mirren) in The Hundred-Foot Journey
The thriving culinary scene in the nation's capital will soon be internationally-recognized with its first Michelin guide. The fourth city in the United States to get a guide after Chicago, New York City and San Francisco. In 2016, 76 New York City restaurants received a Michelin star rating, 22 in Chicago and 50 in San Francisco.
In short, it's exciting! So, here's a little primer on the guide, so that you are set when the guide debuts on October 13.
THE MICHELIN GUIDE
Its origins ...
Michelin, the tire company, was founded in 1888 by brothers Edouard and Andre Michelin, and in 1900, le guide Michelin was launched to promote tourism. At a time when cars were still viewed as a luxury, the now iconic red guide was designed to entice individuals to discover new places, hotels and restaurants in France by automobile in hopes Michelin tires would be purchased. A clever marketing ploy, if you ask me. Then in 1926, the guide evolved into a key resource that rated restaurants with a deemed award - stars.
THE DEFINITION OF STARS AND CRITERIA
First, here's how the Michelin guide defines the stars.
* Very good cooking in its category
** Excellent cooking, worth a detour
*** Exceptional cuisine, worth of a special journey
Another feature that shouldn't be glossed over is called "Bib Gourmand." Restaurants that offer 'exceptional good food at moderate prices' are given this title. Fun fact. The name of this classification is derived from Bibendum, the Michelin man, whose nickname is "Bib."
Second, in addition to the classification of the restaurant (bistro or fine dining restaurant), the assessment of the stars is based on the below 5 criteria:
(1) Quality of ingredients
(2) Mastery of cooking technique
(3) Personality of the Chef in his/her cuisine
(4) Consistency over time
(5) Value for money
Anonymity, attention to detail and a great memory are key characteristics ...
Michelin has a staff of anonymous reviewers called inspectors. They are pretty much culinary operatives. Not kidding. Inspectors' identity must remain secretive, so much so that they are advised to not even tell their families about their line of work.
Inspectors must be passionate about and tend to have a substantial amount of culinary experience, whether it be from working as as a chef or in the food and beverage department in a hotel.
When reviewing, inspectors normally dine alone, and from memory, they recount their dining experience in a detailed analysis, based on the above criteria, which is then shared and discussed afterwards with other inspectors to determine the allocation of stars. Another interesting aspect, Michelin pays for the inspectors' meals and expenses, not the restaurant being reviewed.
WHICH D.C. RESTAURANTS WILL RECEIVE THESE COVETED MICHELIN STARS
It's the burning question on everyone's mind, which restaurants will be awarded one of these desirable Michelin stars or defined as a Bib Gourmand? Hopefully it will be good mixture of eateries that have an established presence and newcomers. Here are just a few that I hope to see in the guide - Rose's Luxury, Marcel's, Little Serow, Maketto, Minibar, Komi, Rasika, Toki Underground, Izakaya Seki, Centrolina, Pineapple & Pearls, Convivial, Metier, Bad Saint, The Dabney, Le Diplomate, Indique, Ghibellina.
Michelin, we are waiting with bated breath to find out!
Michelin photo credit: restaurant.michelin.fr