After years of planning visits to Michelin-starred restaurants in other worldwide destinations, Miamians will finally have their own Michelin Guide.
In a press release on Monday, Gwendal Poulennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said, "Michelin Guide inspectors look forward to discovering the world-class culinary landscape in Miami, Orlando, and Tampa."
Visit Florida, along with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Orlando, and Visit Tampa Bay, are partnering with the Michelin Guide to release its first edition of the Michelin Guide Miami, Orlando, and Tampa sometime in the spring of 2022.
Exact terms of the partnership between Visit Florida, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Orlando, and Visit Tampa Bay and the Michelin Guide have not been disclosed, including if Michelin has received any monetary compensation. New Times has a call in to Michelin and will update the story with additional information.
According to the release, Michelin Guide inspectors will commence dining at Florida restaurants in the target cities.
The Florida trio joins five other U.S. cities/regions with Michelin Guides: New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) chief operating officer Rolando Aedo tells New Times that his organization has been working to get the Michelin Guide to Miami for years now — and he singles out one chef in particular for starting the conversation.
"I want to give credit to Brad Kilgore," Aedo says of the Miami-based chef and restaurateur. "It's going back several years, now, but we were on a trip together and he said, 'We have to have Michelin in Miami.' Brad and a group of other Miami chefs really started the preliminary discussions."
Aedo says discussions with Michelin were reactivated when his counterparts in Tampa, Orlando, and Visit Florida teamed up to make it happen.
"These cities have all been recognized as great places for dining and we're all partners of [the statewide umbrella organization] Visit Florida. We all recognized that this was the optimal time, since the hospitality industry is going through tourism recovery."
Aedo emphasizes that despite the partnership agreement, Michelin will make all the decisions regarding which restaurants are included in its guide. He provided Michelin with a list of hundreds of restaurants that have participated in GMCVB programs — but his involvement ended there.
"Michelin is renowned because of its unbiased approach to how it does its guides," he says. "That's what excites us about the partnership."
According to its website, Michelin may award zero to three stars for the quality of a restaurant's food based on five criteria: Quality of the ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his cuisine, value for money, and consistency between visits. (Décor and service are not part of the equation.)
But a restaurant may also be awarded a "Bib Gourmand" designation, named after Bibendum, the actual name of the Michelin Man of tire-ad fame. The designation recognizes "friendly establishments that serve good food at moderate prices."
Restaurants are also recognized for sustainability, a notable cocktail or wine list, an interesting view, or good street food. Separate from the star system, fork-and-knife ratings rank establishments for service and comfort.
Several Miami restaurants come to mind as potential Michelin star recipients, including Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. Chef Michael Schwartz, who is working to renovate his eponymous Design District restaurant, tells New Times that the Michelin Guide's arrival will be great for all of Miami.
"As chefs, we are always reaching for the stars. It's nice that they will finally be within reach."
Schwartz then gave a little advice to chefs and restaurateurs who might go overboard with the news. "Please let's not take this too seriously. Don't let it be the tail wagging the dog."