What is a Michelin Star Rating? A Brief History into the Culinary World’s Most Coveted Star

A Michelin star rating is akin to the holy grail of fine dining. It is a serious foodie’s Bible code, and topnotch chefs across the globe crave its approval.

But how did Michelin, a manufacturer of tyres, gain such authority over the world of food? Read on for its very colorful history.

michelin star guide history background what is 1900
An image of the very first edition of the Michelin Guide (1900) taken from the dignet.com site.

1900: It all began in 1900 when Michelin brothers Andre and Edouard had a brainstorming session on ways to make the people of France go on more road trips.

1904: They hit the jackpot when they came up with food as bait; after all, the love of food is universal! Combining a love of food with travel, they created a Michelin Guidebook that was free to the public. It was a first of its kind listing of restaurants broken down by location, and opened up many new options for travelers.

By 1911, the Michelin Guidebook was adapted to other regions of Europe including Spain, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

1920: Given the demand for the Michelin Guidebook, it was no longer offered for free.

1926: The very first Michelin Stars were awarded!

1997: The Michelin rating system started getting a reputation for choosing only the fancier, higher-priced restaurants. To avoid loosing out on the general public who favored lower-priced meals, the Michelin Guide created a new distinction called ‘The Bib Gourmand’. Named after the mummified mascot of Michelin Tyres who was created by cartoonist O’Galop in 1898, The Bib Gourmand is awarded to restaurants deemed fit for the ‘value for money’ status.

Bib looks like a mummy, but was actually created to look like he is made of tyres. Interestingly, the original Michelin tagline was ‘Nunc est Bibendum’ which translates to ‘let us drink’. This was to showcase the ability of the tyres to ‘absorb’ everything in their path, and also fits in perfectly with the brand’s link to food.

What is michelin star history

2001: The Michelin guide was made available online on www.ViaMichelin.com

2005 – 2007: The Michelin Guide enters the American and Asian markets.

michelin japan times
(Image taken from the Japan Times website)

2009: The Michelin Guide celebrates its 100th French edition, and an iPhone app gets introduced.

2015: The Michelin Guide now covers over 24 countries across four continents!