Dubai: What makes a restaurant worthy of a Michelin star

An inspector, who remains anonymous, takes us through the selection process for restaurants that were recently awarded Michelin Stars


Husain Rizvi

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Published: Tue 9 Jul 2024, 7:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 9 Jul 2024, 2:18 PM

In Dubai, you can't miss out on the extravagant lifestyle. There are options aplenty; from fancy diners to luxurious hotels, you can eat and stay at some of the best locations that define the ultimate luxe.

But what adds to the credibility of these high-end restaurants? There's word of mouth, the ratings and reviews, and of course, the popularity of the chef goes a long way. However, a restaurant is further solidified with the addition of Michelin awards to its name.

Restaurants can be awarded one, two, or three Michelin stars - the highest of honours in the industry, pick up the Bib Gourmand accolade, or be featured in the Michelin Guide list. While the stars are of the ultimate value, the other two honours are considered top notch too.

What goes behind selecting these restaurants? With a plethora of restaurants available in Dubai, it is undoubtedly hard to pick the best. During the recently held third edition of the Michelin Guide Ceremony 2024 in Dubai, several restaurants picked top honours, including one and two Michelin stars, Bib Gourmand, and an inclusion in the Michelin Guide list.

At the ceremony, City Times had the chance to speak to a Michelin inspector who remained anonymous for obvious reasons. The inspector under the alias John spoke to a group of journalists and food bloggers via a Zoom conference. He detailed the selection process which includes multiple inspectors who visit several fine-dining establishments, presumably undercover, over the course of the year and consider key factors such as the taste, ingredients, quality, service, and value for money.

So do these inspectors visit alone or in pairs, and are there multiple visits to the same restaurant or visiting the restaurant once is enough, we asked. "The way we work is sometimes the inspectors would eat on their own, and other times in pairs," the inspector said. "There is no set formula."

"What is also important to note that we would often eat several meals in the same restaurant in a year. We would eat different dishes, try different menus; if a restaurant has an a la carte menu, we would try that one day, if there is a tasting menu, we would try it on another day. So we get contrasting experiences from our visits."

How many meals does it take to decide if a restaurant deserves a Michelin Star? "How many ever meals are necessary to make the right decision," the inspector answered. "We've even had instances where the number of meals had gone to double figures because we want to be sure that when we give the star, it is the right decision and that the consistency and quality is present throughout the year."

He further added: "Obviously we have an entire working year, so it is important that the standard is maintained over the whole year and not just for a month or two. We want to be sure that the same level is maintained the whole working year."

Coming back to the event, the third edition of The Michelin Guide Dubai, which was held at One&Only One Za'abeel on Thursday, July 4, unveiled a new two Star restaurant - Row on 45 - which became the fourth restaurant in Dubai to receive two Michelin Stars. Four new restaurants including Orfali Bros were also awarded one Michelin Star and six new restaurants were presented the Bib Gourmand award. The Michelin Guide selection now features 106 restaurants in total, and 35 different types of cuisines.


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