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After a Pandemic-Induced Hiatus, Michelin Guide Will Award Stars in the US Again

Restaurants in Chicago, DC and New York will face the judgement of anonymous inspectors again.

Michelin's Mascot Bibendum Photo: Jeremy Repanich

The world’s favorite tire-company-meets-food-bible is back—though for some it never really went away. Michelin has announced it will resume awarding of stars in Washington, DC, Chicago and New York over the next three weeks. While around the globe Michelin kept awarding stars in locales including the UK, Tokyo and France, the little red guide postponed the Stateside star announcements that customarily happen in the fall. The California guide, which debuted in 2019, is on a slightly different publishing schedule and thus will reveal its stars later this year.

Despite the case that Michelin continues to award stars, it acknowledges on its own website that 68 percent of all starred restaurants in the world are currently closed. But with reopenings happening across America, 56 percent of starred restaurants are now offering in-person dining again. That’s a big upswing from January, when only 1 percent of starred restaurants were open and that represented enough positive momentum to make the organization want to shift gears again and end its hiatus.

“A monumental shift has taken place throughout the restaurant community, requiring everyone to pivot in their own unique way—The Michelin Guide, included,” the international director of the guide Gwendal Poullennec said in a statement. “We look forward to highlighting the accomplishments of the industry’s most resilient restaurants, who, despite the toughest year, are still serving.”

The delay from the fall allowed inspectors more time to evaluate restaurants once they were able to resume dine-in service. And the inspectors were allowed to factor in past experiences at restaurants when evaluating their star worthiness during a time of distress for the industry.

“If anything, we were benevolent as to the selections,” Poullennec told The New York Times about the inspection process. “We were impressed with their incredible achievement throughout the crisis. Some of them went above and beyond the standards we usually expect. That’s a positive trend right now.”

However, not everyone thinks the time is right yet. Nick Kokonas, the co-owner of three-star Alinea in Chicago wonders how Michelin could have been doing inspections to its previous standards.

Well, whether restaurateurs like it or not, Michelin will reveal stars via an online streaming show for the three cities on the following dates:

  • Washington, DC – April 22
  • Chicago – April 29
  • New York – May 6

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