The revered Michelin Guide awards its stars

Written by admin on March 3, 2009 – 8:48 pm -

For people who want to know about the (alleged) best restaurants and hotels in various countries, the Michelin Guide is more than likely their culinary and hotel bible. Or one of them.

People who happened to be passing Paris’s Musée d’Orsay yesterday might have thought the Academy Awards were taking place. The area was filled with police and there were dozens of satellite broadcast trucks, so the press could announce the newest winners (and losers) of the much sought over Michelin stars.

France has twenty-six three-star restaurants. There’s only one new addition this year and it’s been awarded to 45-year-old Eric Frechon, head chef at the tres chic and expensive Bristol Hotel. Frechon has already worked in the restaurant business for 32 years and has done everything from mop floors to cook for royalty and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy’s home is literally a three-minute walk to the hotel.

But as Paris is feeling the economic crisis and even the very rich have been cutting back when it comes to eating out and opting to go to less expensive restaurants. Frechon wagers this star will insure every table is booked as they were in the past.

This year was the 100th anniversary of the publication of the Michelin Guides that are printed by the tire company. During the two world wars, the guides were put on hold. Inaugurated in France, Michelin now publishes guides covering twenty-three countries and forecasts further expansion. As of this year, the information is now accessible via mobile phones including the iPhone by accessing Michelin as well as the Internet.

In addition to the 548 starred restaurants, Michelin’s 2009 French edition has awarded 527 restaurants a “Bib Gourmand.” That designation signifies restaurants that offer good value for money. These meals cost no more than €35 (without wine). They are where I’ll be eating when I’m not eating pasta in the kitchen.

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

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