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Michelin stars: Europe’s gourmet ratings

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Each year the Michelin guide selects the best European restaurants. In 2008, France holds onto its lead. An altogether too-French attitude?

Every year, anonymous diners from the famous ‘red guide’ feast their way through Europe in order to put together the list of the best gastronomic addresses in Europe. This year Prague has made its way into the Michelin guide with the Allegro Restaurant run by Italian chef Andrea Accordi being awarded one star. Restaurants in France however remain by far the highest rated in Europe with a total of 529 stars, compared with 186 for Germany, 146 for Spain and 116 for the UK.

Surprisingly, the first Michelin Guide published in 1900 by André Michelin was nothing more than an advertising pamphlet given to motorists when they purchased pneumatic tyres. All that was included at that time was a list of practical information (doctors, garages, city maps, and so on). It was in 1920 that a restaurant section was added and in 1926 that the best kitchens were set apart by awarding them ‘macaroons’, or ‘stars’.

The outcomes of the anonymous inspections however are as much criticised as they are held in esteem and continue to bring both gloom and sunshine to the gastronomic world. Over the course of time, the guide has gained a considerable reputation and now serves as a reference guide for many amateur gastro-fans. And the Michelin editions are doing their best to prove their critics wrong who have for so long accused them of being too ‘pro-French’ and ‘traditional’. The reference guide’s editors are themselves looking to widen their audience.

Translated from Les étoiles gourmandes de l’Europe