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- Published 21.06.11
In the world of dining, Michelin is the one magic word that matters. And a Michelin star (or three) is the one symbol that matters. The M word comes with its own mystique and who better to demistify it for us than Gianfranco Chiarini? The chef, who has worked in many Michelin restaurants — including Carré des Feuillants (two stars) in Paris and La Pergola Restaurant (three stars) in Rome — is the closest Calcutta has come to hosting a Michelin man.
What is a Michelin star?
A rating given by the Michelin guide to restaurants. It originated in France in the early 1900s. Michelin is a brand of tyres actually. It started off as a guide for people who drove along Europe listing hotels and restaurants. The stars go up to three and in the 1960s and ’70s it became hugely popular. Apart from stars they also award Michelin forks. It means that you have a good level but not good enough for a star.
How does a Michelin inspector judge a restaurant?
Normally they go to a restaurant thrice, each time anonymously. They go for one dinner on the weekend, one dinner during the week and once for lunch. They rate it on ambience, atmosphere, service — including services like valet parking, menu, cleanliness… Everything needs to be perfect. The last thing they need to rate is the consistency of the culinary. One of the things they look out for is the naturalness or non-chemical binding.
What does it mean for a chef to work in a Michelin star restaurant?
Well as much as it would mean for a journalist to work in Wall Street Journal.
Even if you are not an executive chef?
Yes, even so. Just to be in charge of a section in a Michelin star restaurant is responsibility enough. You can make the restaurant lose a star.
What happens to the reputation of a restaurant once you lose the star?
The stigma remains.
How does a three-star restaurant feel different from a one-star?
Difficult to explain, let’s just say you can feel it. You feel honoured even to sit in the restaurant. You can feel how things run in a perfect way.
Is the Michelin star really a star?
It is a figure of a chubby guy holding a star on top.
How does the restaurant display it?
They put the sticker on the door.
Finally, your top Michelin chefs in the world?
• Heinz Beck
• Michel Roux
• Alain Dutournier
• Joel Robuchon
• Alain Ducasse
• Paul Bocuse