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If you've ever watched a racing event or have a general interest in cars and motorsport
you probably recognize this little guy – the Michelin man.
It's the mascot of the French tire manufacturer Michelin – the second largest tire manufacturer
in the world.
They have made tires for the Bugatti Veyron, the famous caterpillar dump trucks and even
the space shuttle as well as for millions of people all over the world of course.
But its logo also shows up in other, quite surprising places: at the entrances of fancy
Most people probably know what a Michelin star is and what it represents – at least
in essence – but not everyone will instantly make the connection between this Michelin
and this Michelin – even though the name should make this pretty obvious.
So how did this happen?
How did a tire company come to rate restaurants and why is this this of all things the most
prestigious award a restaurant or a chef can receive?
To understand this we have to go back more than 100 years to the year 1900.
It was the beginning of the automobile boom – In France around 3000 people owned a car
at that time and with the first cars going into mass production it was foreseeable that
this number would rise quickly in the next few years and especially decades.
The brothers Édouard and André Michelin, the owners of a newly established tire company,
had already gained attention for their invention of a new replaceable air-filled tyre but the
market was still too small to really profit from it.
So they started to look for ways to promote the continual progress of automobiles in the
country and to convince more people to buy cars as well as to promote their new company
and product.
Their idea: a guide for motorists.
Travel guides were a popular thing at the time.
With a growing market for long distance tourism there was a sudden demand for quality information
about far-flung places.
Murray's Handbooks for travellers and the German Baedeker Guides had come out only a
few decades earlier and had been hugely successful.
The Michelin Brothers saw a gap in the market for a guide specifically aimed at motorist
that would provide drivers useful information such as maps, tire repair and replacement
instructions, petrol station and car mechanics listings as well as listing of suitable restaurants
and hotels – information that would be otherwise difficult to find.
The Brothers were right and the Michelin Guide became an almost instant success which prompted
them to quickly publish the guide in other countries as well such as Belgium in 1904,
Algeria and Tunisia in 1907 Italy Switzerland and the Netherlands in 1908, Germany Spain
and Portugal in 1910 and Ireland and the British Isles in 1911 - expanding the company's reach
In the early 1920s when cars had become a lot more common the focus of the Michelin
Guide on tire and car maintenance then gave way to classic guidebook fare.
Due to the rising popularity of the restaurant section of the book, the section was restructured
and expanded.
To ensure the quality of the listings the brothers recruited a team of so-called “inspectors”,
full-time food critics that would travel the country, visit restaurants anonymously and
review them: A practise that has remained relatively unchanged until today.
A few years later in 1926 they then made the most important change, by introducing stars
to award particularly good restaurants.
Initially they only gave out single stars but in 1931 the system was expanded to the
three-star-system we know.
Today, nearly 90 years later a new Michelin Guide is still being published every year
and while its origin as guide book for motorist is long forgotten by most it has since then
become maybe the most prestigious restaurant award in the world - but why?
Why is its rating so highly valued by chefs?
One reason is certainly the company's and the guide's long history.
Michelin survived two world wars and many recessions over its long 130 year existence.
It now ranks among the 30 oldest companies in France.
During all this time they never gave up on their odd marketing item which meant it quickly
became one of the most well-known travel guides in the world.
One advantage the Michelin guide had over other guides particularly during the rough
first half of the 20th century was that its profitability was never a concern.
In the first 20 years the guides were given out for free and even after they started to
charge money for it in 1920 it very likely remained unprofitable for a long time.
But because its editors could count on the Michelin marketing department covering its
costs this was never an issue.
And so this odd marketing expense withstood the test of time.
It also meant that they could strive for a level of quality that other Publishers couldn't.
The maps for instance were some of the best in the world.
They were so well made in fact that Michelin guides were given out to British and US soldiers
during World War II.
Then there was the fact that the company hired dozens of full time food critics just to review
restaurants all year round, year after year - Another thing that only they could afford
and clearly made the guide stand out among the competition.
But perhaps the most important factor was exclusivity.
Driving in the early 20th century was very much limited to the rich and the famous.
So the Guide was initially heavily geared towards this demographic.
As a result the selective standards for what to include were notoriously strict and elitist
and only the crème de la crème of restaurants was considered for a star.
Only a few dozen maybe even only a handful of restaurants were awarded stars in each
Even after 1950 when cars were no longer just a luxury item and the guide had already more
than 100.000 readers the strict exclusive selection process remained.
This combination – the combination of popularity and exclusivity made recognition by the Michelin
Guide a big deal for restaurants.
It was a sure-fire way to make your restaurant stand out among the competition: A star meant
overnight recognition.
It elevated the restaurant from one in thousands to one in a few dozen.
It guaranteed a surge in new customer for the next year and more – it was simply very
very good for business, which is why the stars became a very valuable and sought-after honour
among restaurants and chefs This was of course not the intention or goal
behind the guide but simply a by-product of its selection process and criteria and its
Nonetheless it meant that the Michelin Guide and its stars quickly became more consequential
for restaurants and chefs than perhaps any other honour and it has remained like this
ever since.
I know this video wasn't the type of science video I usually do so I thought we could end
it with a little science quiz to make up for that.
Here's the problem: Imagine you and a flock of little birds weighing
as much as you do eat together day after day.
Which of you would need to eat more calories to stay alive?
Did you get it?
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- a learning platform that uses exercises like this to teach you mathematics, physics
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And if you do like it you can go to brilliant.org/fim to get 20% of your premium subscription.
If you made it this far without turning off, here are a few more things that I couldn't
fit in the main part of the video.
As I said in the video, the way the restaurants are reviewed is by a group of inspectors,
which are essentially full time food critics hired by Michelin.
Today they have around 150 of them all over the world.
In the UK for instance it's around a dozen.
Each inspector has between 260-300 lunches and dinners during a year in the various restaurants
in the country that have stars or aspire to receive one.
Restaurants with one star are usually visited 2-3 times during a year while the ones with
2-3 stars are visited up to 10 times or more by multiple inspectors.
That's to ensure the restaurant has retained the high standard necessary for the award.
So restaurants can also lose stars.
One of the most notable things about these inspectors is the secrecy.
In order to make the reviewing process as authentic as possible and to ensure the incorruptibility
of the rating the inspectors visit the restaurants completely anonymously.
Michelin goes to extraordinary lengths to maintain this anonymity.
All the expenses are paid for the inspectors, which in turn are not allowed to disclose
that they are inspectors at any point while they are working.
They are also not allowed to talk to journalists and are even advised not to tell their friends
and family they are working for Michelin.
This of course means that the restaurants and chefs never know if there's currently
an inspector among their guests which essentially makes every day the most important day of
the year.
Its like as if during the last year of high school each day could be the day that decides
whether or not you are allowed to go to university and you don't know which one it will be
- Understandably stressful.
Even just maintaining a star can be a burden as losing it would have a devastating effect
on the restaurant.
Which is why some chefs have said they did didn't like receiving a star – some because
of the increased stress level and expectations among the customers other said they didn't
like the publicity it caused and still others that it led to an unmanageable jump in booking
and affected their ability to serve their loyal customers.
So while the recognition by the guide is definitely good for business it can also be a double
edged sword.
So that's about it.
Don't forget to check out brilliant and thanks for watching.


A Tire Company Gives Out The Most Prestigious Food Award - Here's Why

26 タグ追加 保存
王杰 2020 年 5 月 17 日 に公開
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