Inspiration Food Travel How Michelin Stars Are Awarded to Restaurants By Akila McConnell Akila McConnell Akila McConnell is a freelance travel and food writer who has been touring the world full-time since 2009. She has visited 40 countries on five continents. TripSavvy's editorial guidelines Fact checked by Leila Najafi Fact checked by Leila Najafi on 03/25/20 Instagram LinkedIn Twitter Leila is an L.A.-based luxury travel and lifestyle writer with over five years of experience covering destination guides, hotel reviews, restaurant openings, travel rewards programs, and buying guides. TripSavvy's fact-checking on 03/25/20 Share Pin Email Alison Czinkota / TripSavvy In This Article Michelin's Anonymous Reviewers Michelin Stars Defined Where You Can Find Michelin Guides Michelin Guide Criticisms The term "Michelin Star" is a hallmark of fine dining quality with restaurants around the world proudly promoting their Michelin Star status. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay reportedly cried when the Michelin Guide stripped the stars from his New York restaurant, calling the food "erratic." Ramsay explained that losing the stars was like "losing a girlfriend." Interestingly, this prestigious restaurant rating is from a tire company. The same Michelin that sells tires also hands out restaurant ratings, and highly coveted ones that that. Michelin's Anonymous Reviewers Michelin actually has a long history of reviewing restaurants. In 1900, the Michelin tire company launched its first guidebook to encourage road tripping in France. In 1926, the first tour guides were published by Michelin which awarded single stars for fine dining restaurants. To this day, Michelin relies entirely on its full-time staff of anonymous restaurant reviewers. The anonymous reviewers generally are very passionate about food, have a good eye for detail, and have a great taste memory to recall and compare types of foods. A reviewer has said that they must be a "chameleon" who can blend in with all of their surroundings, to appear as if they are an ordinary consumer. Each time a reviewer goes to a restaurant, they write a thorough memorandum about their experience, and then all of the reviewers come together to discuss and decide on which restaurants will be awarded the stars. In this way, the Michelin stars are very different than Zagat and Yelp, which rely on consumer feedback via the Internet. Zagat tallies restaurants anonymously based on surveyed reviews of diners and consumers while Yelp tallies stars based on user reviews provided online. Because the reviews are not screened, this process subjects companies like Yelp to a number of lawsuits. Michelin does not use any consumer reviews in making its restaurant determinations. Michelin Stars Defined Michelin awards 0 to 3 stars on the basis of the anonymous reviews. The reviewers concentrate on the quality, mastery of technique, personality of the chef, value of the food and consistency, in making the reviews. They do not look at the interior decor, table setting, or service quality in awarding stars, though the guide shows forks and spoons, which describes how fancy or casual a restaurant may be. If you're interested in looking at a reviewing company that looks at ambiance and decor, try the Forbes reviews which look at over 900 criteria, such as whether the restaurant offers solid or hollow ice cubes, freshly squeezed or canned orange juice, and valet parking or self-parking. Michelin, on the other hand, focuses entirely on the food. The reviewers award the stars as follows: One Star: A good place to stop on your journey, indicating a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard.Two Stars: A restaurant worth a detour, indicating excellent cuisine and skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding qualityThree Stars: A restaurant worth a special journey, indicating exceptional cuisine where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients. Michelin also awards a "bib gourmand" for quality food at a value price. They must offer menu items priced below a maximum determined by local economic standards. Restaurants covet these stars because the vast majority of restaurants receive no stars at all. For example, the Michelin Guide to Chicago 2014 includes almost 400 restaurants. Only one restaurant received three stars, four restaurants received two stars, and 20 restaurants received one star. Where You Can Find Michelin Guides In the United States, you can only find Michelin Guides in: New York City In 2018, 72 New York restaurants received a Michelin star rating.In 2017, 77 New York restaurants received a Michelin star rating.In 2016, 76 New York restaurants received a Michelin star rating.In 2015, 73 New York restaurants received a Michelin star rating.In 2014, 67 New York restaurants received a Michelin star rating. Chicago In 2018, 25 Chicago restaurants received a Michelin star rating.In 2017, 26 Chicago restaurants received a Michelin star rating.In 2016, 22 Chicago restaurants received a Michelin star rating. In 2015, 24 Chicago restaurants received a Michelin star rating.In 2014, 25 Chicago restaurants received a Michelin star rating. San Francisco In 2018, 55 San Francisco restaurants received a Michelin star rating.In 2017, 54 San Francisco restaurants received a Michelin star rating. In 2016, 50 San Francisco restaurants received a Michelin star rating. In 2015, 40 San Francisco restaurants received a Michelin star rating.In 2014, 38 San Francisco restaurants received a Michelin star rating. Washington. D.C. In 2018, 14 Washington, D.C. restaurants received a Michelin star rating.In 2017, 12 Washington, D.C. restaurants received a Michelin star rating. In 2016, the Michelin Guide announced that it would release its first-ever guide to Washington D.C. In 2012, the company said that they were considering expanding into other locations, including Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, but this foray into Washington, D.C. put the District on the map as a culinary destination. Michael Ellis, director of the Michelin Guides explained, "Washington is one of the great cosmopolitan cities in the world, with a unique and storied past that includes, among so many other things, a rich culinary tradition that continues to evolve in exciting new directions.” Michelin Guide Criticisms Many have criticized the guides as being biased towards French cuisine, style, and technique, or towards a snobby, formal dining style, rather than a casual atmosphere. That being said, in 2016, the Michelin guide awarded a one-star rating to two Singaporean hawker food stalls where visitors can stand in line to get a cheap and delicious meal for around $2.00. Ellis explained that these hawker stalls receiving the star, "signifies that these hawkers have managed to hit the ball out of the park...In terms of the quality of the ingredients, in terms of the flavors, in terms of the cooking techniques, in terms of just the general emotions, that they are able to put in their dishes. And that is something that I think is really unique to Singapore.” Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Share Pin Email Tell us why! Submit Here Is a Look at Michelin Starred Restaurants in the United States Where to Go This Year: The Best Places to Travel in 2020 Michelin Star Restaurants in Hong Kong and Macau How to Find an Ethical, Authentic Food Tour The Best Restaurant in Every State Interesting Things You'll Want to Do on San Francisco's Fillmore Street The 9 Best Chicago Hotels with a View of 2021 The 10 Best Restaurants in Cornwall, England The 11 Best Restaurants in Buffalo An LGBTQ+ Travel Guide to Denver, Colorado The 16 Best Restaurants in Lima The 8 Michelin-Starred Restaurants to Book in Portugal The Best Restaurants in Brooklyn The 11 Best Chicago Hotels of 2021 Go Here For the Best Breakfasts in San Francisco The 6 Best Design-Forward Motels in the U.S.