Michelin Guide paid to produce city guides

I thought this was quite an interesting article and I was quite surprised to read this was possible. Whilst I don’t doubt they keep the sponsorship and assessment as seperate functions I still wonder if it can skew things.

I have read a lot of comments that many of the highly starred Michelin restaurants in Asia don’t really hit the same standards as the top starred places in Europe. Could it be that in order to give value its important to show a city has a good number of 2 and 3 star places…?

Maybe the relative ranking within a city is good but the ranking between cities is less accurate as it would be quite negative to assess a city like HK or Singapore and not award anywhere 3 stars.

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Genuinely surprised to read of the commercial aspect.

It must, inherently, call into question Michelin’s independance. That said, I find that some of their decision making in awarding (or not awarding) stars to UK restaurants to be simply perverse. I find I’m less interested in whether a place has a star or not, than how it’s ranked by, say, the Good Food Guide which seems to have a greater consistency.


Don’t know how to react to this. I need more information.

Does it mean if the city pay more, they will include more restaurants in their guide? What is frustrating in this situation is every city has a different standard. Why 1 star restaurants in Hong Kong can look like a street food place and why in Paris, a restaurant with this style would never have any stars? Should we still have confidence in this guidebook?

Well, well…

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I still have confidence but I tend to look on the recommendations differently in different countries. In HK I tended to view it as simply a sign it would be good but ignored whether they had 1, 2 or 3 stars.

In France I think it is a lot more reliable and the relative nature of 1, 2, and 3 stars is pretty reliable - yet I recognise Le Fooding and other sources are going to be far more reliable for new and non-traditional restaurants. Michelin is also stronger if you read all the symbols rather than just the headline stars as it contains a wealth of information about ambiance, wine, etc etc.

But that said I never rely on one source I always cross reference. I don’t think I have ever had a bad Michelin meal…but I have been to a few tedious and boring Michelin starred places.

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I offer you the one star Nut Tree in Oxfordshire.

Indifferent food further let down by indifferent service.

Now, perhaps elsewhere, I might have regarded this as just an indifferent “gastropub” meal but I have different expectations if I’m going to a starred place.

I nearly went there once but my triangulation of reviews turned up a few negatives so we didn’t bother. Sounds like a good decision.

I have always wondered how they come up with the money to review all these expensive starred restaurants. Certainly just selling books isn’t enough to go to more than a few of these every year.

Even the amount S Korea paid- $1.4m over 4 years, while not small, isn’t big for a large company like Michelin. If we assume $300 a meal all in for each inspector, its only 1100 meals per year for the inspector team.

Of course, once they do the initial inspection, perhaps they only pick a small subset to revisit each year.

I suspect its part of the brand extension. Get the name recognition in Asia and it opens up a market so possibly a bit of a loss leader. And how do they handle advertising - I know the printed books have a few ads, but does “via Michelin” do more on-line…?

And given the price of a set of Michelin tyres for my car they don’t need to sell many to pay for some pretty good meals…!