There Is No Such Thing as a Michelin-Starred Chef

If you have ever referred to someone as a ‘Michelin-starred chef,’ you are sadly mistaken, and here’s why
There Is No Such Thing as a Michelin-Starred Chef

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Sorry, chef, you don't own "your" Michelin stars.

When it comes to famous and successful chefs, there’s no higher accomplishment than being awarded a Michelin star. Originally beginning as a rating system by the tire company of the same name in 1904, it was devised to help motorists in France locate places to eat during their cross-country journeys. It has since become a global benchmark, and you’ll often see some of the biggest names in food described as a “Michelin-starred chef” or having a certain number of Michelin stars — yet neither of these descriptions are technically true.

Allow me to explain.

Michelin stars — ranging from one to three — are only awarded to restaurants. That means the chef, the kitchen staff, and the restaurant as a whole all share the star(s). Although the head or executive chef usually gets the credit, they cannot take the stars with them after they leave. Alternately, the establishment doesn’t lose a star when its head chef leaves either, but the stars also don’t transfer if the restaurant opens up a new outlet in a different location.

How can one give a chef credit for their part in earning a Michelin star for a certain restaurant? Simple. Instead of stating, “Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud,” you can say, “Daniel Boulud, chef of the Michelin-starred restaurant Daniel.” Sure, it’s a few more words, but it’s the most accurate way to actually describe the accolade.

Besides, if you’re talking about a food expert, you’ll probably want to sound like you know a thing or two about the industry as well.

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