Unsurprisingly the job is all about eating as it’s all about the food on the plate, writes a Michelin inspector for the Michelin Guide UK magazine.
While the article doesn’t reveal any secrets or pointers for chefs looking to make sure they put their best foot forward but it does give an overview of what it’s like to eat at fancy restaurants for a living.
“The most fundamental element of this job is, unsurprisingly, eating – and that means lunch and dinner out almost every working day, so fussy eaters need not apply. An inspector’s primary job is twofold: to make sure the restaurants and pubs already in the guide are still recommendable and to search out new establishments to add to the guide. We sometimes eat alone, sometimes in pairs – we always try to vary things up,” writes the anonymous Michelin inspector.
The article also reiterates the company line that the Guide is all about the food on the plate and nothing else. So setting, view or experience count for nothing if the chef’s artistry is not up to scratch.
“So, what do we actually look for? It’s the food on the plate, nothing more. One of the great misconceptions of our guide is that we are somehow concerned with the colour of the curtains or the style of the service. But really, it’s just the food – the restaurant could be the swankiest, most comfortable place in the world but if the food isn’t that great, we aren’t going to have it in our guide. Similarly, if the food is wonderful then we don’t care if we’re sitting on plastic chairs having queued outside for an hour.”
The inspectors will often return to the same restaurant to make sure the food is consistently good. “We’re not trying to catch anyone out but we’ll try it, for example, on a Friday night, a Tuesday lunch and at various times of the year. You can have one-off great meals just as often as you can experience one-off bad meals and it’s the consistently good ones that we want to point out,” writes the inspector.
Inspectors aren’t let off lightly either and can expect a grilling on their decision by their fellow inspectors. They also have to write detailed reports after they dine at a restaurant and develop advanced knowledge of multiple cuisines.
The downside to the job is spending some much time travelling as even if you’re concentrating on one region there can be hundreds of restaurants to get through. You are often eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in different places every day. Inspectors also have to sleep in a different place every night, from high-end hotels to B&Bs and farmhouses as the Guide also recommends accommodation.
You would imagine that gaining wait would be an occupational hazard for the Michelin Inspector, but not so according to this one.
“The downside? Surprisingly, it’s not necessarily weight gain. Granted, you may put on a pound or two when you start, but most of us level out – or just start wearing slightly looser clothing. Why aren’t we all the size of a house? Well, we’re mostly eating good quality, fresh food and we spend time over our meals – so we’re not grabbing a bite on the hoof and we don’t snack.”