It’s the king and queen of culinary questions – what makes the full Michelin Star experience? Sadly, it’s also a question with no simple answer. The key word being ‘experience’ – as in the culmination of many things that add up to the whole. Michelin Star ratings are not about fulfilling a checklist or blueprint, but actually quite the opposite.
After all, simply satisfying a standard set of criteria day after day is a guarantee recipe for the generic.
But for those looking to plan and implement a Michelin Star strategy, how and where should you begin?
Well, as already touched upon it’s not simply about serving up pure perfection. Quite simply if it’s already being done similarly elsewhere, you’ve lost your USP. Excellence in dining is about consistent surprise, innovation and delivering the kind of excitement that you and only you can offer. Perfection can only be considered as such if it is also unique.
Advanced cooking, like advanced thinking, requires finely-honed skills and a focus on simplicity. Michelin Star dining doesn’t have to mean dishes that are complicated just for the sake of it. If you can take a few simple ingredients and create a masterpiece, you’re already halfway there. If you have to throw a thousand complex components together to deliver the wow-factor, you’re not.
Science Vs Art
They often say cooking is an art while baking is a science. When it comes to fine dining, it’s a combination of the two. It’s the amalgamation of stellar creativity with a strong understanding of culinary science that breeds the select few that make it to Michelin Star level. You don’t have to go quite as far as Heston’s molecular marvels, but you do at least need to know the basics. The long and short of it being that you cannot focus only on the science or the art of gastronomy – you need both in your life.
No restaurant or chef lives in the kind of vacuum where outside influence is removed from the equation. Quite the opposite, as the vast majority of menus are devised in accordance with customer tastes and trends at the time. To assume that even the most capable chefs don’t routinely ‘borrow’ ideas from all over the place is naïve to say the least. It’s simply a case of tracking what’s happening elsewhere, identifying what you could be doing a thousand times better and coming up with something that’s not yet been seen or experienced.
Service, Service, Service
Last up, investing heavily in the most incredible dishes is a pointless endeavour if the service you provide isn’t equally flawless. Michelin Star service is about relaxation, enjoyment and an informal environment your guests feel comfortable. Fine dining that’s also fun dining, to put it another way. But it also has to be adaptive, in order to satisfy the unique expectations of each guest individually. When your guests leave, they should remember the service they received just as fondly as the dishes – if not slightly more so.