Remember Disney’s film, “Ratatouille” (2007)? The character, Chef Gusteau, is inspired by real chef Bernard Loiseau, dying of a broken heart shortly after losing a star. That was Gusteau. Chef Bernard unfortunately took his own life. And recently, celebrity chefs Daniel Boulud and Gordon Ramsay also lost a star in one of their many establishments, but fortunately, although very much devestated for their loss, they do not give up.
During my years training in the culinary/hospitality field, getting a Michelin star was my dream, as well as all my colleagues studying with me. It’s the highest honor for most chefs to have, and in a way, they do deserve it. Though it’s nothing solid. A star can be given, a star can be taken away. It isn’t an award you can hang on your restaurant wall at the front desk, and it isn’t a trophy you can display in your cabinet either. It’s not like a cutout star your teacher gives you if you’ve been an excellent student. It is an object of illusion. An illusion created to distinguish superior chefs from the rest. Of course, I’m not saying that those who have it do not deserve it, no. Those who have earned it have definitely deserved it, earning from the dishes they presented that displayed an ecstasy of flavours and a realm of creativity.
The first stars to be awarded was during the 1920s in France. And what I find funny is that Michelin is a car tyre company. Yes, they did write guides for locations and motor vehicles back in the day, but now their main guide is to restaurants and hotels. When I think Michelin, okay, the stars, but what comes next is fat babies that look like the Michelin man. Tyres are always last. Funny, huh? Anyways, they created a system giving stars to a maximum three. And throughout the years, each star was given series of definitions:
Worth a check out if you’re in the neighborhood.
A definite check out when you’re nearby.
Wherever you are, getting on the plane and flying the miles is definitely worth the time and value.
What happens after you get a star? I read a few articles about chefs who refused a star or wanted to give it back. And their reasons for is not unfounded.
When getting a star, a bar has been set which you can hardly ever go under.Going under the standard can result in a loss of a star, so more inspiration and creativity is needed. Some chefs are able to do this and lucky for them. Though it’s not only that. Getting a star means getting diners in your restaurant who are there for the reputation rather than the food. It’s definitely something to talk about when you say you’ve dined in a michelin star restaurant. Of course the food will weave its way in the conversation, it’s only natural, but it’s in the order of what comes first. The food is always talked about first before revealing the location of the hidden jewel however when it comes to the michelin restaurants, it’s always the mention of that first before the food. Furthermore, as a chef, because of the added pressure of needing to please practically everyone, I’m sure you’d slowly lose the passion of cooking and the want of serving people for the joy of it.
So, the Michelin judges responsible for the ‘yay or nay’ of a restaurant can leave their judgements at home when they come to my restaurant (when I open it that is). I want to keep my passion and joy of cooking and serving people and yes, I have no doubt there will always be professional critiques, but I’d rather get an award of something solid than a star which determines the rise or fall of my restaurant. Some of you may disagree, but to each his own.
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