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Michelin Stars and World's 50 Best: A Guide

Learn more about these two world standards for restaurant rating.

By Matthew Agius

You’ll see plenty of mentions of Michelin stars and the World’s 50 Best Restaurants as the Tasting Australia 2018 program is released early next year.

Lucky for us – and you - there will be plenty of world-leading chefs, sommeliers and restauranteurs making their way to Adelaide for the 10-day eating and drinking festival from 13-23 April 2018.

But what are these international standards? And what does it mean for you when you’re taking a seat at one of Tasting Australia’s premium events in 2018?

“These are the rockstars of the culinary world,” says festival director Simon Bryant.

“They’ve been recognised by industry for their creativity, their excellence, and their consistency.

“That means that you’ll be served a meal fit for a food critic, prepared by a legend, full of South Australian flavour.”

So what are these world-renowned standards, and what will it mean when you’re whetting your appetite with some of their incredible creations in April?

The Michelin Guide 

It might seem obscure that a famous French tyre maker would come up with a grading system for European restaurants, but that’s precisely what the Auvergne-based company did over a century ago.

Why? Well, in what should come as a surprise to no one, it was to simply sell more tyres.

By giving the French elite more reason to travel by car, and by giving an incentive to travel further for the most delectable of dishes, Michelin reasoned chauffeurs would be replacing their rubber more frequently.

Of course today, the Michelin Guide stands on its own as the oldest international standard of restaurant grading.

Today the guides also stretch further afield, and are constantly evolving. Published in an annual guide, ratings are allocated on a one-star (indicating a ‘very good restaurant’), two-star (excellent cooking that is ‘worth a detour’) and three-star (‘exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey’) basis by anonymous inspectors.

World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Originally started in 2002 within the walls of UK-originated Restaurant magazine, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants is voted upon annually by a panel of more than 1,000 industry experts including chefs and food media. The procedure is highly-regulated and reaches to all corners of the world.

There’s also an extended list of the world’s best 51-100 restaurants published in the lead-up to the top of the crop.

It has quickly become regarded as one of, if not the best, ranking schedule of restaurants globally.

What’s the difference? 

The Michelin Guide has a prestigious, highly-regarded reputation built on more than 117 years of history. It also remains supremely anonymous in terms of the identities of its judges. Perhaps its for those two reasons alone that a Michelin star remains a highly-sought after accolade – a judges are eating anywhere, anytime, and completely incognito.

But one drawback for Michelin in a highly-globalised and well-travelled era is its geographic limitation.

Stars are only allocated in regions of the world where the Michelin Guide is published. Unsurprisingly, there are no starred restaurants in Australia, New Zealand or much of the Southern Hemisphere.

Perhaps that’s where the World’s 50 Best edges out the Michelin Guide in certain minds.

Firstly, there are no geographic limitations – the 2017 list had restaurants from the USA, European mainstays like Italy, Spain, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, South and Central American locales like Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Argentina, and Asian hubs like Thailand and Singapore (plus Australia has two restaurants named in the 2017 50 Best).

While its judges – made up of the more than one thousand members of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy – are not anonymous, they are expansive, and make up some of the world’s top chefs, critics and gastronomic gurus.

How does this affect Tasting Australia?

Thanks to Tasting Australia you don’t have to travel the world to eat dishes by some of the world’s top chefs – they’re coming to Adelaide, and you can join them.

Among them are Norbert Niederkofler and Andrea Tortora of three Michelin-starred St Hubertus in Italy, and JP McMahon of Michelin-starred Aniar (Ireland).

From the World’s Best 50 Restaurants are Christian Puglisi of Copenhagen-based Relæ (ranked 39th) and Dan Hunter, whose Victorian-based Brae rated 44th.

You can taste the creations of these world-leading chefs through the first release of tickets to two Glasshouse Kitchen events at Tasting Australia 2018.

Tortora will join Festival Director Simon Bryant, Paul West (River Cottage Australia) and Jyoti Bindu (Pollen 185, Adelaide) at Seed & Soil on Wednesday 18 April.

Puglisi and Hunter will join Festival Programming Director Jock Zonfrillo (of Restaurant Orana) and Aaron Turner (Igni, Geelong) at Fire on Saturday 21 April.

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