Michelin Stars are a high-priced dish

The scoop on Michelin stars

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The Future. There’s no plaudit in the food industry quite like a Michelin Star, but NYT reports the pressure to monetize and expand the influence of the brand has led to what some allege is a pay-for-possibly-play scheme. But as Michelin grows the number of its influential offerings, more restauranters will likely lobby for their cities’ tourism boards to pony up rather than get off the hyped (and pressure-filled) merry-go-round.

Privileged tastes
Top chefs in new Michelin destinations like Florida and Colorado are frustrated they won’t end up with a star because of tourism economics.

  • In Florida, $1.5 million from state and city tourism budgets made sure only restaurants from Miami, Tampa, and Orlando were eligible for stars.
  • In Colorado, the in-the-works Michelin Guide is only considering restaurants in Denver, Boulder, Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek, and Snowmass thanks to payments from their tourism boards.
  • Those scenarios mimic 2019’s updated California guide, which only started to include LA after Visit California paid Michelin $600,000 for its inspectors to take a drive south of the Bay Area and wine country.

Gwendal Poullennec, Michelin’s director of the guides, admits the company does accept “partnership” money from tourism boards, hotels, and food corporations to cover costs (which used to be subsidized by physical guide sales) but stresses the payments have no bearing on what regions and restaurants are selected. 

But it’s clear it does have an effect on what restaurants are ultimately considered — a bit of a fib when the Colorado guide markets its “anonymous Inspectors combed the Centennial State for the most delicious spots.”

Yet, with international visitors to Colorado spending five times more than domestic ones, Colorado may not mind the controversy.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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