Last November, we reported that Visit Florida, along with local tourism agencies (Visit Orlando, Visit Tampa and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau), had entered into a financial arrangement with the Michelin Guide to have its inspectors rate restaurants in those three cities. While the exact amount of money paid to Michelin is not known, the Miami Herald reported that the trio coughed up $1.5 million for a three-year period; the COO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau stated that “It is a significant investment for all parties.”
This type of arrangement is not new, even if it calls into question Michelin’s legendary reputation for impartiality and incorruptibility. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Visit California paid Michelin $600,000 in 2019 to expand beyond the Bay Area to the rest of the state. Thailand pays more than $880,000 to sponsor the Guide each year, and Michelin ventured into Korea after the Korean Tourism Board paid $1.8 million for a multi-year deal.
When the results were announced last week, 15 Florida restaurants received Michelin stars and one establishment earned two. For those unfamiliar with the system, three stars is the highest accolade (“Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”), followed by two (“Excellent cooking, worth a detour”) and one (“A very good restaurant in its category”). In addition, 29 Florida restaurants received the Bib Gourmand designation (outstanding value). There were 11 starred restaurants in Miami, four in Orlando and none in Tampa.
L’Atelier de Joēl Robuchon, under the direction of Chef Alain Vezeroli, received two stars for modern French cuisine served at a 34-seat counter and open kitchen. Founded by the late Chef Robuchon, L’Atelier is a global chain with locations in New York, Shanghai, Dubai and Las Vegas.
Here are the Miami one-star restaurants:
And the four in Orlando:
Are these the best restaurants in their respective cities? Not necessarily. They are the restaurants judged to be best by a restaurant guide that received a substantial amount of money to evaluate them. The late Mr. Robuchon amassed 32 Michelin stars in his lifetime, while Thomas Keller (proprietor of The Surf Club) now has seven. As always, consumers will be the final arbiters.
Mark Spivak specializes in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He is the author of several books on distilled spirits and the cocktail culture, as well as three novels. His first novel, Friend of the Devil, has been re-released on Amazon in print, e-book and audio book formats. Has America’s greatest chef cut a deal with Satan for fame and fortune?