This coming Wednesday (16th February) the Michelin Guide to restaurants will use its social media channels to announce the latest crop of Michelin stars.
Restaurants which are awarded a star can look forward to increased bookings. Chefs that lose a star are likely to have some sleepless nights. And if they do manage to drift off, they can expect that Bibi or Bibendum, the grinning Michelin man mascot, will loom large in their nightmares.
Originally published in 1904 as a way of increasing tyre sales, the Michelin Guide started awarding stars in 1926. In the restaurant world, they are highly desirable. A one star restaurant is deemed to be 'a very good restaurant in its category' while a two star restaurant is described as having 'excellent cooking, well worth a detour'. Three stars means 'exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey'.
To put this in context, Scotland currently has a single two star establishment: Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles. There are ten with one star and none with three stars. Edinburgh has four one star restaurants and there are others on the West Coast , on Skye, in Fife and, since last year, in Glasgow.
Michelin star for Glasgow
There was much rejoicing in January 2021 when it was announced that Lorna McNee at Glasgow's Cail Bruich had been awarded a star. It was the city's first since 2004 when Gordon Ramsay's Amaryllis closed. Some people do get sniffy about the Michelin Guide and question its validity. Some of the criticism may be justified but there is no denying that McNee's star was a definite feather in the cap for Glasgow's culinary reputation.
You don't need to eat in a Michelin starred restaurant to feel their benefit. If a restaurant gains one then it motivates its competitors to up their game. Stars attract talent. Aspirational chefs like to do training stages at Michelin star restaurants. After their stage, some stick around and nurse ambitions to open their own dining business. Having a network of Scottish restaurants with stars means that enterprising chefs don't have to go to London, Paris or New York to learn from big names. They can do it right here.
Bib Gourmands for Glasgow
Stars are not the only way that the Guide recognises restaurants. It also hands out Bib Gourmands to places which offer 'good quality' and 'good value'. The Bibs were announced on Friday when Celentano's and Ka Pao - both in Glasgow - learned that they were recipients of the designation. Congratulations to both.
Will Scotland gain any more stars? Will it retain those it already has? Who knows but, from 10am on Wednesday morning, there will be lots of eyeball trained on the Guide's Instagram and Twitter feeds.