All About Michelin: Why Did A Tyre-Making Company Start To Rate Restaurants
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In a world obsessed with dining out and socialising, food inherently becomes one of the most important aspects of the whole concept. And every restaurateur and chef around the world knows the importance of what factors determine the position of their restaurant. A Michelin star being the top most. Michelin stars are part of an internationally recognized restaurant rating system, that is used to grade the level of service quality of many restaurants around the world. The coveted rating is seen as the ultimate sign of success for a restaurant - one star for “a very good restaurant in its category”; two for “excellent cooking, worth a detour”; three for “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” The star is however, given to the restaurant not the chef. But have you ever wondered how did the Michelin star rating came into being? A lot of people question the star rating system and how it works, and to know about it you must first know the history of the Michelin guide.  

Michelin is actually the second largest tyre company in the world. Surprised? Well, most people don’t know this unusual connection, and even fewer people know the “why” of the connection. How did a tyre-making company go on to give ratings to restaurants and how it became the most coveted evaluations in the culinary industry? Well, if we go back over 100 years in history, as the automobile industry was beginning to boom, Michelin brothers Ándre and Édouard had just invented the first ‘replaceable air-filled tyre’. And with approximately 3000 cars in France at that time, the brothers were super ambitious. To market their new invention of replaceable tires, either they were dependent on sales of new cars or gave the car owners reason to change tyre more rapidly. The more the usage, the faster is the replacement cycle. This is when they came up with idea of a Guide- which was already quite in vogue in France at that time. From information on fuel stations and mechanics to suitable restaurants and hotels to eat and stay across France, the Guide had it all. The Michelin Guide became an instant hit and they soon spread across Europe as well.

In the 1920’s when automobile became more common and people didn’t need guide on mechanics or instructions about tyres, the brothers decided to expand the food section on the guide that had grown in popularity. They appointed full-time ‘food inspectors’ and food critics to review restaurants and rate the cuisine and service, anonymously. The company has retained this philosophy to this date. Only the best restaurants would feature in this guide. In 1926, in a bid to further make it more exclusive, they started ranking them and awarding stars - Michelin Stars. They followed this for five years awarding the best restaurants single Michelin star, which changed to three stars in 1931. The three stars- one for high quality cooking which is worth a stop, two for excellent cooking which is worth a detour, and three is for excellent cuisine that is worth a detour.

Isn’t this a brilliant marketing strategy that is followed to the point till date? With highly trained food inspectors who visit these restaurants anonymously and verify to the last bit, leaving no chance for error, Michelin Guide has proved itself the most influential in the culinary world. The only catch- Michelin stars can only be given to restaurants that are in the region where Michelin Guides are present. So for instance, Australia, India, and many other countries still does not have Michelin-star restaurants because we don’t have Michelin Guides here. But there’s always a chance, isn’t it?


With Michelin Guide and star-restaurants, the tyre-making company indeed have changed the culinary landscape of the world. It is indeed one of the first companies to run such an influential and century-long marketing strategy. What do you think?