Winning a James Beard Award or receiving a Michelin Star is a tremendous task and prestigious accomplishment. A manifestation of hard work and consistent execution, winning these accolades is a professional and personal triumph whose effects extend much further than kitchen sink or bank account.
Authority and celebrity are bestowed upon the winners giving them national or global recognition not only with their customers but their peers. Winning such awards is not for everyone, but if you have a competitive nature and believe you can do it, I think it’s one of the best possible things you can do to promote yourself and your restaurant.
Here we will take a brief look at the history of the James Beard Award and Michelin Star, how to win them, and what to expect when you do.
The James Beard Award
- The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.
- The James Beard Awards are given in many categories, including chefs and restaurants, books, journalism, broadcast media, and restaurant design, leadership, humanitarian, and lifetime achievement
- The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards honor members of the American food, beverage, and hospitality industries who demonstrate excellence in their respective fields. Winners show exceptional talent and creativity in their craft and commendable leadership among their colleagues and peers. The James Beard Foundation is dedicated to promoting a strong, safe, inclusive, ethical food community, and these awards reflect those values.
- Call for recommendations starts the first of October each year. We encourage all to submit a recommendation for a chef or restaurant for consideration. Recommendations will be reviewed by the committee for consideration when creating the ballot of semifinalists. They are not official nominations. There is no entry fee.”
Entering to win a James Beard award is free and open to all. And with so much to gain, there’s very little downside in trying to establish your restaurant as one of the best. Here’s an article depicting one Denver chef’s experience winning a James Beard Award, what it has done for his restaurant and the culinary landscape of his city at large.
Winning a Michelin Star, though, is a completely different task. “One of the highest honors in the restaurant industry is to be awarded a Michelin star.” The Michelin Guide has been long seen as the world’s authority on fine dining experiences and being awarded a single Michelin star can have profound impacts on your success.
“Restaurants that have received Michelin stars have reported an increase in business. French chef and restaurateur Joël Robuchon, who holds the title of being awarded the most Michelin stars in the world, told Food & Wine, “With one Michelin star, you get about 20% more business. Two stars, you do about 40% more business, and with three stars, you’ll do about 100% more business.”
Clearly there is a huge incentive to decorate your restaurant with these stars, let’s look at how to get it done.
According to the 2018 Michelin Guide Panel, there are 5 areas a restaurant is assessed:
- Using quality products and ingredients
- Mastery of flavor and cooking techniques
- The personality of the chef as revealed through the cuisine
- Value of the cost of the meal
- Consistency of the food and culinary standards over time
“Michael Ellis, former International Director of the Michelin Guides, told Elite Traveler about this criteria, “Those criteria taken together really reflect the quality of cuisine because this methodology is the same whether we’re in Paris, Tokyo or New York.”
Emmanuel Nony, owner of the Michelin-recognized Sepia, believes that you don’t have to be a traditional fine dining establishment in order to receive a Michelin star. He thinks, “A Michelin star denotes the level of hospitality, not the particular genre or menu. It’s the way you feel when dining at the restaurant that counts.”
Putting yourself and your restaurant up for judgement is no doubt a challenge in itself, but the benefits of winning such prestigious awards such as a James Beard or Michelin Star are impossible to ignore. And if you have the spirit, and the stomach, to compete and be judged among the best, I think it adds value to your business that you cannot buy and absolutely should be considered a worthwhile endeavor.