French tire company Michelin announced that it would be bringing its coveted Michelin Guide to the state of Florida in 2022 covering Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. This comes as a partnership with Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism board and marks the fifth destination in the United States for the prestigious restaurant rating system joining guides in New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, and the state of California.
The guide first began as a free booklet in 1900 published by Michelin to help motorists find the best places to eat and drink throughout Europe. Over the past century, it has grown in prestige and expanded its footprint globally. The guide is seen by many as the global standard of restaurant reviews with its up to three star rating system with one-star considered “very good restaurant in its category,” two-star considered “worthy of a detour,” and three-star deemed a “special journey.” The restaurants are reviewed by an anonymous group of “inspectors” that vary by location.
In recent years, the guide has partnered with high-profile tourism boards in places like Australia, South Korea, and California to bring the Michelin guide to their areas in order to increase tourism revenue. The Michelin Guide doesn’t disclose how much it is paid to bring inspectors to those market — price tags have been reported to be well over six figures — though the company has been candid in the past about its partnerships with those respective boards.
“Some countries and some governments that want to . . . attract tourism, they are very interested in having a guide, and so they sponsor a guide to have the ability to communicate around their gastronomic landscape,” Claire Dorland Clauzel, former executive vice president for Michelin guides, told the Washington Post in 2017.
But not all chefs welcome the stars. Over the years chefs have famously asked to “give back” their stars, citing the increase pressures that the award brings along with it, especially for those who awarded the much-coveted three-star recognition. Others have pointed out the guides penchant for selecting primarily Eurocentric and Japanese menus for stars at the expense of other worthy cuisines and cultural institutions like street food.
Regardless of feelings about the guide, Michelin’s entrance into Florida dining is a very big deal and perhaps reflects a leveling up of the state’s food ambitions overall. In the past year, starred restaurants such as Cote in New York have expanded to South Florida in droves, bringing high-caliber cuisine with them.