They Don’t Give Away Michelin Stars For Nothing

We as people are always in search of something bigger, better, faster, stronger. But isn’t it great when you can enjoy dinner at a restaurant that actually tries to make you happy (and dine with someone who makes you happy) and just simply enjoy the moment, for a moment? I had my first Michelin star dinner in the stunning Italian alps at La Stüa de Michil in the La Perla Hotel in Corvara, Italy. Did they think I was a Michelin inspector? Maybe. (Probably not). As I sit here, back in America, contemplating, munching on a Kinder Bueno (my favorite European candy), wishing I were still in Italy, I think to myself, “What makes a Michelin star meal? Is it any different than any other meal?” The answer is yes.


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ES Chats with the Michelin Man


Wednesday morning was the equivalent of Oscar nominations day for New York City chefs of a certain caliber, who woke up and found out whether they had won or lost a star from the esteemed French food critics at Michelin. (Yes, the same people who replace your tires are also the world’s most feared and respected food critics — go figure.) But it was also an interesting day for Jean-Luc Naret, Michelin’s directeur general, whose job is to personally call each chef and break the good (or bad) news. We caught up with the foodie world’s Santa Claus/Grinch to see how his big day went.

ES: So you actually call each of these chefs yourself? Are they expecting your call?
Jean-Luc Naret: Yes, I call each newly starred chef every year. You never know if they are expecting you. It’s sometimes really beautiful, such as with a chef like Cesar Ramirez at Brooklyn Fare [the first Brooklyn chef to ever receive two stars] who I called this morning and told him that he has two stars. That was a great call because he knows what it means. And it’s not two stars in Brooklyn — of course it is in Brooklyn, but it is two stars period. It means that his kitchen is becoming one of the best kitchens in the world. So he’s going to have a lot of focus on him now and hopefully he can keep it the same way.

But you also do the other call — when someone loses a star. Sounds awkward. How does that go?

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