Tow hands prepare to place a tomato onto a delicate colourful stack of food on a white dish, on a blue marble tabletop

Some restaurants are just a cut above. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of eating a smooth entrée that makes the taste buds unite in total harmony. Or perhaps it’s the unique sensation of flavours that should, in theory, clash, but combine to create something delicious. Every foodie likes something different about dining, but one thing everyone agrees on is that Michelin star restaurants are the epitome of fine cuisine. 

But what does it take to be one of the world’s top Michelin star restaurants? Aficionados may discuss it over glasses of rare wine and tantalizing tasting menus, and among the world’s top chefs, how to get a Michelin star is a hot topic: the recipe for success, however, is secret. 

Tantalize your taste buds: Exceptional Dining with Luxury Gold

The Michelin inspectors could arrive anytime

Chef Vincent Guimera focuses on a plate of food he is preparing, using small salad leaves

Chef and owner Vincent Guimera prepares a dish at Michelin-starred L’Antic Moli in Spain, where you dine on Spain & Portugal in Style. Photo credit: @lanticmoli on Instagram

Michelin has produced its restaurant guides since 1900. As the brand’s reputation grew, the process of its prestigious awards was refined. In a nutshell, anonymous inspectors will book, dine and pay at an establishment that’s caught their eye – where the ingredients are said to be top-notch, or the chef is believed to be particularly excellent.

There are currently around 80 Michelin inspectors, all of whom are highly trained food professionals, sworn to total secrecy.  The inspectors are told to pay no attention to the restaurants decor, service, or any other distractions. They simply focus on the meal in front of them. 

Essential reading to get ready to dine: What to Expect When Dining at a Michelin-star Restaurant

Experience Michelin-starred dining at L’Antic Moli on Spain & Portugal in Style

Graded according to five criteria

A glass dish contains yellow, red purple and green foods, with a glass pipette gently dripping on a caramel coloured sauce

Delicata pumpkin, Exmoor caviar and pecan served at Michelin-starred Olive Tree Restaurant in Bath, England. Dine here on British Royale. Photo credit: @olivetreebath on Instagram

Michelin officially lists five criteria chefs should be striving for; the quality of the ingredients (i.e. only the freshest produce and most succulent meats), mastery of culinary techniques, an injection of the chef’s personality into each and every dish, value for money, and the consistency of the food.

The inspectors report back to Michelin with their findings and the company holds regular meetings to decide which eateries make the cut. However, being a top Michelin star restaurant isn’t easy; inspectors will visit, at any time, to make sure the food stays up to scratch. And, if a chef leaves, they don’t take the Michelin star with them: they have to earn it in their next kitchen.

You may also be interested to read: A Journey of Flavour: The Mastery of India’s Michelin-star Chefs

Savor exquisite dishes at Michelin-starred Olive Tree Restaurant on British Royale

A revered three-star system

Orange coloured sauce is drizzled over an elegant meat dish garnished with bright orange and green in a Michelin star restaurant

A sensational dish is served at Michelin-starred Borkonyha Winekitchen in Budapest. Dine here on Harmony of Central Europe. Photo credit: @borkonyha on Instagram.

One hard-earned Michelin star is enough to put any restaurant on the map, but since 1931, restaurants can earn up to three of these floreal accolades. The early editions of the Michelin Guide said that an eatery with one star was “very good in its category”, two meant it had “excellent cooking, worth a detour” and a third meant it offered “exceptional cuisine, worth a special trip”. Currently, France has the most Michelin star restaurants – with Japan hot on its heels.  

If a restaurant is thought to warrant an upgrade to a two-star, four inspectors need to visit to verify the quality of the food. Should that restaurant be lucky enough to be considered for a third Michelin star, ten different inspectors need to sample its delicious dishes.

As the Michelin listings are updated every year, there are plenty of opportunities to gain a star. Currently, there are 139 three-star restaurants: France and Monaco have 29 of them. 

Read about the best of Japanese cuisine: Explore the Top 8 Michelin Star Restaurants in Tokyo

Experience fine dining plus an extensive wine cellar at Borkonyha Winekitchen on: Harmony of Central Europe

A Michelin star is not for life

Divine dishes and stunning vistas await at Michelin-starred Mamma restaurant in Capri, where you dine on Ultimate Italy. Photo credit: @lemonzurestaurant on Instagram

In the tough world of restaurant accolades, all chefs know what is given can easily be taken away. In fact it’s not uncommon for restaurants to lose a Michelin star. This could be a result of standards in the kitchen slipping, the downgrading of ingredients, or even head chefs leaving for greener pastures. 

Gordon Ramsay’s NYC restaurant, The London, notoriously lost two of its stars in 2013 – the Hell’s Kitchen star himself was reduced to tears. Despite this Ramsey holds 17 Michelin stars, making him the third highest chef for these esteemed accolades. Frenchman Joël Robuchon is top with 31.

However, inspectors at Michelin are aware of the impact losing a star could have on a chef’s career – be they young or established – and endeavour to be as fair as possible in their judgment.

Perhaps the greatest thing about the top Michelin star restaurants is that the guide is always growing, evolving, and open to innovative ideas – so, when exploring our wonderful world, the flavour-loving traveller will always find somewhere phenomenal to satisfy their culinary cravings. 

Bookmark for later: The Luxury Gold Guide to the Finest Michelin star Restaurants in Edinburgh

Enjoy exceptional dining and sensational views at Michelin-starred Mamma Restaurant in Capri on Ultimate Italy

Exceptional Dining – a hallmark of Luxury Gold

From in room breakfasts to culinary masterclasses, VIP wine tours to Michelin star dining, gastronomy is at the heart of every Luxury Gold journey. You’ll experience sensational surroundings from private estates to bustling street markets, and sample the menus of acclaimed chefs worldwide. Delectably delicious and thoroughly enjoyable, each plate and Exceptional Dining experience brings you closer to your destination.

Tantalize your taste buds with our worldwide collection of small group journeys.