Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bay Area Michelin Guide

Hot off the newswire:

Michelin announced today the Michelin Guide San Francisco and the Bay Area 2007, arriving in stores in October 2006.

Michelin will expand its exclusive hotel and restaurant guide series in North America to include SanFrancisco and the Bay Area. The Michelin Guide San Francisco and the Bay Area 2007, the first-ever Michelin Guide for a West Coast city, is scheduled to arrive in stores October 2006. The Guide will cover hotels and restaurants in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Berkeley, as well as the Wine Country including Napa and Sonoma. The announcement was made todayby Jean-Luc Naret, worldwide director of the Michelin Guide.

The Michelin Guide, whose rating system is internationally recognized as the height of culinary success, is already published in 12 editions covering 20 European countries, and additionally includes a Guide to New York City, which was introduced in November 2005. For its debut in the San Francisco area, the Guide will provide a selection and rating, in all categories of comfort and prices, of San Francisco and Bay Area restaurants and hotels, in a reader-friendly layout made especially for the American market and the region's distinctive culinary and hotel landscape.

"The diversity, breadth and depth of San Francisco's restaurant and hotel scene, coupled with its rich gastronomic history clearly mark the city and surrounding areas as the logical choice for the next North American title in the Michelin Guide series," commented Naret. "As with our recently published Guide to New York City, we are making every effort to produce a comprehensive selection that does full justice to the region's exciting restaurant and hotel culture and also meets our readers' expectations."

During the announcement, Naret described San Francisco as unique among American cities, citing its reputation as a world-class tourism destination and stressing the importance of its treasured culinary traditions, including the genesis of organic cooking, the foundation of California cuisine and the 'Slow Food' movement, as well as the production of renowned wines nearby.

"The Bay Area's food-conscious residents value innovative cuisine and are passionate about using fresh ingredients, including some of the country's highest quality organic ingredients that are produced here," said Naret. "We are eagerly anticipating the Michelin Guide's entry into this wonderful city known for its cuisine, culture, beauty and innovative spirit."

As part of its meticulous and highly confidential evaluation process, Michelin inspectors -- both European and American -- are currently conducting anonymous inspections in Bay Area restaurants and hotels. As with all Michelin Guide inspections, the process involves test meals or overnight stays at each establishment by Michelin inspectors, in order to assess the level and the consistency of the establishment. As with all of the Guides for all countries, inspectors pay all of their bills at restaurants and hotels.

"The Michelin inspectors are the eyes and ears of the customers, and thus the anonymity of our inspectors is key to ensure they are treated the same as any guest would be treated," commented Naret.

The Michelin Guide offers a broad selection of hotels and restaurants in each price and comfort category, taking into account each country's local environment. This rating is unique and consistent across all countries covered by the Michelin Guide. It is expressed in two ways:

  • A comfort rating: levels of comfort are rated using one to five forks and spoons for restaurants and one to five pavilions for hotels. Those symbols only judge the comfort of the establishment. They are: the furnishings of the establishment, the service, the cleanliness and upkeep of the surroundings.
  • Special distinctions for certain establishments: these include stars for the very best restaurants. Red forks and spoons or red pavilions are for especially pleasant establishments. The stars judge only "what's on the plate," meaning the quality of products, the mastering of flavors, the mastering of cooking, the "personality" of the cuisine, the value for money and the consistency of what it offers to its customers both throughout the menu and the year.

While every restaurant in the Guide is a recommendation from Michelin, certain restaurants deserve to be brought to the reader's attention for the particularity fine quality of their cooking. These establishments are identified by Michelin stars, which are awarded for the standard of meals served.

A general listing in the Guide indicates "a quality restaurant that stands out from others" in the same category of comfort, definitely worth trying. The star ratings are as follows:

  • One star indicates "a very good restaurant in its category," a place offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard.
  • Two stars denote "excellent cooking, worth a detour," skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality.
  • Three stars reward "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey." One always eats extremely well here, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients.

The decision to award a star is a collective one, based on the consensus of all inspectors who have visited a particular establishment. A written description of each establishment and a variety of other symbols will give readers further insight into an establishment's ambiance, type of cuisine and specialties, and wine list, customized to American tastes and needs.

The two founders, Andre and Edouard Michelin, first impacted the transportation world, and consequently the travel world, when their innovative ideas led to the first pneumatic automobile tires. Since this breakthrough in travel technology, the Michelin Group has been dedicated to providing unbiased, accurate, clear and easy-to-understand information for the traveling customer. The Michelin Guide, first published in 1900, was created to provide motorists with practical information about where they could service and repair their cars and find quality accommodations or a good meal. The Guide was provided free of charge until 1920, and the "star system" for outstanding restaurants was introduced in 1926, with the two-and three-star categories introduced in the early 1930s, clearly positioning Michelin as the most respected arbiter of fine dining. With their unparalleled commitment to quality, Michelin publishes close to 20 million maps, atlases, travel guides and hotel and restaurant guides in more than 70 countries worldwide every year.

The Michelin Guide San Francisco and the Bay Area 2007 will complement the existing catalog of Michelin maps and guides to the North American market, including the recently launched Guide to New York City. The Guide will be available in October 2006 at bookstores, boutiques and other participating retailers, including online retailers.

Hmmm... While the Peninsula area is not specifically mentioned, I'm guessing it will be covered as well.