The MICHELIN GUIDE: From Tyres to Food

How this tyre company knows good food.

[Sa-tyre] : With a handful of local hawker heroes now officially recognised internationally as the Michelin Guide award recipients, the team at COVERED Asia “drives” into what gives this world renown tyre company the right to be the leading authority on fine dining.

Singapore-Michelin-Guide-Awards-2016
Singapore-Michelin-Guide-Awards-2016

What is the MICHELIN GUIDE?

The MICHELIN GUIDE, is an annually published Guide which features dining establishments, hotels and tourist sites. But how did a tyre company come about giving food and hotel reviews you ask? Well, let us take a trip back in time to the turn of the 20th century.

History

In the summer of 1889, Ándre and Édouard MICHELIN founded a company making tyres in Clermont-Ferrand, France. At that point in time, there were only around 2,200 cars in France and proper road networks were not yet established. The problem, which was realized further down the road, was that as their tyres got better, their sales figures stagnated. Mainly because replacements were not needed as often and the distance people travelled also remained constant.

In 1900, the MICHELIN GUIDE was then created to help boost sales of MICHELIN’s tyres and cars by informing road users about useful travel information. The first batch of 35,000 copies was given away free to the public and it had useful information such as maps, instructions on how to change a tyre, a list of car mechanics, hotels, pharmacies and petrol stations.

MICHELIN GUIDE 1900 (1st edition)
MICHELIN GUIDE 1900 1st Edition (Source: Justforsybarites.com/2015/02/06/michelin-stars-behind-the-legend)

In the following years, the Guide was introduced to other parts of Europe. Publication was suspended shortly during World War 1 and 2.

Trivia – In 1944, The Allied Forces requested that they reprinted the 1939 Edition of the MICHELIN GUIDE for France specially for military use because its maps were judged the best and most up-to-date available to the invading armies.

In 1926, the Guide began giving stars to award certain establishments on their performance and later in 1931, the hierarchy of zero, one, two and three stars was introduced but it was not until 1936 which the criteria for the starred rankings was published:

* “A very good restaurant in its category” (Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie)
** “Excellent cooking, worth a detour” (Table excellent, mérite un détour)
*** “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey” (Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage)

When the colour of the Guide covers changed from blue to red in 1931, so did its contents. The Guide started listing more restaurants than other establishments and soon, the MICHELIN GUIDE was concentrating more on restaurants by creating a team of anonymous reviewers to rate establishments which they feel was worth patronising.

The Inspector

The reason why the MICHELIN GUIDE is so revered is because of the reviewers, who are referred to by MICHELIN as “inspectors”. They are usually chefs themselves, they all have extensive backgrounds in the culinary arts and they all have to pass official MICHELIN GUIDE training in France. Unlike many food critics, they do not take notes while eating, and will often visit a restaurant multiple times unaccompanied before reaching a conclusion.

In order not to contaminate their influences, MICHELIN goes through great lengths to keep their reviewers anonymous. In 2009, a post by As cited by The New Yorkersaid, “Many of the company’s top executives have never met an inspector; inspectors themselves are advised not to disclose their line of work, even to their parents (who might be tempted to boast about it); and, in all the years that it has been putting out the Guide, MICHELIN has refused to allow its inspectors to speak to journalists. The inspectors write reports that are distilled, in annual “stars meetings” at the Guide’s various national offices, into the ranking of three stars, two stars, or one star—or no stars.”

Singapore’s MICHELIN Stars

Being the hub of Southeast Asia, Singapore has seen many people of many countries. Our racially diverse heritage encourages people from all walks of life to immerse themselves in culinary experience which they might not experience in their own country. Singapore is also offers a large variety of food offerings and houses many locally renowned chefs as well as celebrity chefs from around the world. The MICHELIN GUIDE understands this and it was announced that in the second half of 2016, a printed and digital edition of the MICHELIN GUIDE Singapore will be made available.

Developed and operated by Robert Parker Wine Advocate ( a global publishing company), and with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore’s MICHELIN GUIDE will have a web portal which will feature the best of the local food offerings by publishing it on their print and digital Guide book which will be solely, independently and anonymously produced by the MICHELIN GUIDE’s restaurant dining inspectors. They will also hold a series of culinary events which showcase local establishments and foreign chefs who have been rated by the Guide and an editorial section which will be updated daily with informative and interactive content that supports the MICHELIN GUIDE Singapore.

 

Malcolm Yeo

Motoring Contributing Editor

Having garnered an interest in motoring from an early age of 3, Malcolm has ever since religiously kept abreast of design and engineering trends within the world of motoring. Having had the luxury of being in the driving seat of many cars over the years, Malcolm has since developed a knack for giving valued opinions on which cars are suitable for driving styles and lifestyles alike.

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