Some restaurants have much riding on Michelin tires
Did you know that the top selling tire brand company in the world has a lot to do with top restaurant ratings worldwide? In fact, the Michelin tire people are the same ones who have continued to publish the red and green Michelin guides since 1900. The green guide is known for providing maps, lists of mechanics and tourist destinations, while the red guide has become the bible for rating restaurants.
I have never found my way into a Michelin-rated restaurant nor likely will I ever do so, but still it’s interesting to be in the know of what plays in the world of food. To be awarded the status of receiving a Michelin Star in the restaurant business is a really big deal. It’s like winning Olympic gold, the highest accolade in the restaurant industry.
Many of us have been entertained by the computer-animated Disney movie “Ratatouille.” The stars of the movie were Linguine, a young boy who worked as the dishwasher in a fashionable French restaurant, and Remy, a lovable rat, who found his way into the restaurant while floating through the sewers of Paris. The restaurant’s noted chef suddenly dies leaving Remy and Linguine to join forces in carrying on the flagship’s reputation for French cuisine. These two adorable characters manage to astonish the elite of Paris with their kitchen genius.
Allegedly, this movie drew a striking comparison to the actual death of a well-known French chef who had collapsed and died upon receiving word that his restaurant had been stripped of its Michelin Star rating. Yes, the Michelin Star carries deadly clout.
Michelin ratings go from one to a most prestigious three stars. Unlike Zagat and Yelp rating systems that depend upon the public to rate using the computer, Michelin hires 120 anonymous reviewers or inspectors to work in 23 different countries. These reviewers are prohibited from talking to journalists and are encouraged to keep their line of work secret. Each reviewer must prove to be passionate about food, have a good eye for detail and have a great taste memory for recalling so as to compare the types of foods.
Michelin reviewers must travel three out of every four weeks to eat lunch as well as dinner in various hotels and restaurants. On average, a reviewer drives more than 18,000 miles a year and eats at 240 different restaurants. Michelin reviewers are required to meet in person for the purpose of discussing ratings and preferences; no computer questionnaires.
Criteria for Michelin ratings supposedly is all about the food, but factors like the personality of the chef, food value, consistency and a mastery of the prep technique play a role in ratings. Surprisingly, the restaurant’s interior décor, table setting and quality of service are not part of the ratings.
Some have criticized the restaurant guide as being biased toward French cuisine despite, in 2016, Michelin awarded single stars to two hawker stalls in Singapore, quite the switch from the usual Michelin Star restaurants being fancy and expensive.
Restaurants listed in the Michelin red guide are visited for review once every 18 months unless the restaurant is being considered for a change in status. One-star restaurants receive four visits in a single year if being considered for a two-star rating. Two-star restaurants are visited 10 times in a single year if they are in the running for a three-star status.
The majority of restaurants visited receive no stars. Simply put, Michelin describes restaurants earning stars in this way: One-star restaurants are very good.
Two-star restaurants are excellent and worth a detour. Three-star restaurants are exceptional and worthy of a journey.
It wasn’t until 2005 that restaurants in the United States were considered for Michelin Star ratings with only New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco eligible. In 2019, the ratings were expanded to the entire state of California.
Perhaps not Michelin Star worthy, but the following recipes can all be winners at the family table.
Serve this meatless summer entree with a tossed green salad.
MARY MAC’S TEA ROOM TOMATO PIE
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 box Ritz crackers, crush in their original sleeves
2 sweet onions, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups mayonnaise (Hellman’s or Duke’ s)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon each of salt, black pepper
Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread two sleeves of crushed Ritz crackers onto the bottom of baking dish. Pour one can of tomatoes (including the juice) over the crackers. Sauté onions until tender in olive oil; add salt and pepper. Layer 1/2 of the onions over the tomatoes. Add a second layer of crushed crackers, using the third sleeve of Ritz. Pour the second can of tomatoes over all. Top all using the other half of the onions. In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise, both cheeses and the fresh basil. Mix well and spread over the tomato-onion layer. Top with the last sleeve of crushed crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 servings.
This next recipe is sinfully divine.
CHOCOLATE CHESS PIE
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 unbaked 9-inch pastry shell
Whipped cream and shaved chocolate (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs, milk, butter and vanilla in a bowl until well blended. Mix sugar and cocoa together; add to egg mixture and mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Top each serving with whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Serves 8.
Simple ingredients transform this next recipe into a sophisticated entree.
6 chicken breasts, skinned and boneless
1/4 cup flour
2 -1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1-1/2 cups half and half
1/4 cup sherry
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
6 slices of bread; toasted, crusts removed
6 thin slices of cooked ham
Coat chicken with a mixture of the flour, salt and paprika. Melt half of the butter in a heavy skillet with a cover. Lightly brown chicken in the hot butter, then add the water to simmer the chicken, covered for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove chicken and set aside. Blend 1/4 cup of the half and half into cornstarch; add this to the drippings in the skillet and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly. Gradually add the rest of the half and half and sherry. Continue cooking and stirring until sauce is smooth and thickened. Add the grated Swiss cheese to the hot sauce and blend until melted. Sauté mushrooms in the remaining butter, drain and add to the sauce. Gently warm the ham slices. To serve, place a piece of toast on a plate; top with a slice of warm ham and then a chicken breast. Cover with the hot sauce. Garnish with parsley and paprika. Repeat for all six servings.
Here is an easy, simple dish sure to take center stage at any brunch.
CANADIAN COUNTRY PIE
(“Rise & Dine Canada” cookbook)
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
3/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
5 eggs, beaten
Pinch of black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
In a frying pan, melt butter. Sauté potatoes until browned and crusty, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with celery salt and mix well. Spread evenly in a 9-inch pie plate or quiche dish. Top with mushrooms, onions and green peppers. Pour beaten eggs over all. Bake in pre-heated oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until set. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and crumbled bacon. Serves 6.