Seeing Stars, Dining with the Michelin Guide

Taco María, with one Michelin Star is a local Mexican kitchen in Costa Mesa serving a la carte taco menus, prix-fixe four-course dinners and brunch.
Taco María, with one Michelin Star is a local Mexican kitchen in Costa Mesa serving a la carte taco menus, prix-fixe four-course dinners and brunch. Courtesy Taco Maria.
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By Michele E. Buttelman 

The coved Michelin Star is considered one of the greatest accomplishments a chef can earn for his or her restaurant.  

Not easy to obtain, the stars are awarded annually to restaurants that Michelin considers the very best in a given city and recipients gain prestige and exposure along with the honor. 

Many restaurants see an increase in business after earning their stars.  

To diners who consider themselves connoisseurs of good food, serious “foodies” or “gourmands,” dining at a Michelin Star restaurant is among life’s highlights.  

The staff of Addison, San Diego receives the news they have earned the coved three stars Michelin Guide. Addison brings to seven the number of California Three Star Michelin Guide restaurants.
The staff of Addison, San Diego receives the news they have earned the coved three stars Michelin Guide. Addison brings to seven the number of California Three Star Michelin Guide restaurants. Courtesy Addision.

How to Earn a Star 

A Michelin Star is awarded to restaurants offering outstanding cooking. The judges take into account five universal criteria: the quality of the ingredients, the harmony of flavors, the mastery of techniques, the personality of the chef as expressed through their cuisine and consistency across the entire menu and over time. 

The Michelin Stars are award to restaurants annually.  

The anonymous Michelin Inspectors are all full-time employees of the Michelin Guide. They are all former restaurant and hospitality professionals. Once several inspectors have eaten at a restaurant, they then discuss their experiences as a team in order to make a final decision. 

The French Laundry in Yountville is among California’s most acclaimed restaurants. Chef Thomas Keller’s in demand restaurant earned its three-star Michelin rating in 2006.
The French Laundry in Yountville is among California’s most acclaimed restaurants. Chef Thomas Keller’s in demand restaurant earned its three-star Michelin rating in 2006. Courtesy the French Laundry.

California’s Michelin Stars 

California now has a total of 100 restaurants with Michelin Stars as recently awarded at the Michelin Guide Revelation at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. 

The Michelin guide welcomed a new three-star restaurant to its ranks, Addison in San Diego, for a total of seven three-star restaurants.  

Twelve restaurants were awarded two stars and 70 restaurants received a single star. 

The total includes 11 Green Stars awarded for leadership in sustainability practices. California is home to 11 of only 13 Green Stars in North America. 

California has the largest total of Michelin Starred restaurants in the United States, New York is second.  

In addition to the restaurants awarded Michelin stars the guild also named 15 new Bib Gourmand recipients, which recognize eateries for great food for a great value. 

Special awards were presented to: 

  • Michelin Sommelier Award: Vincent Morrow, Press in St. Helena. 
  • Michelin Exceptional Cocktails Award: Bar team, Manzke in Los Angeles. 
  • Michelin Young Chef Award: David Yoshimura, Nisei in San Francisco. 
An example of the artistry found at n/naka in Los Angeles, a two-star Michelin restaurant. The Sakizuke: Hokkaido scallop, oyster aioli, fermented asparagus gelee, scallop roe “dust”, beets, carrots, caviar and sunchoke chips. Spring and Winter ingredients representing summer.
An example of the artistry found at n/naka in Los Angeles, a two-star Michelin restaurant. The Sakizuke: Hokkaido scallop, oyster aioli, fermented asparagus gelee, scallop roe “dust”, beets, carrots, caviar and sunchoke chips. Spring and Winter ingredients representing summer. Courtesy n/naka.

Reservations 

Restaurants that have earned Michelin Stars have achieved “celebrity status” in the restaurant world. Obtaining reservations can often be challenging for some of the more popular venues.  

The French Laundry, called “the best restaurant in the world, period” by the late Anthony Bourdain, is reported to be one of the most difficult restaurants to book a table.  

However, with careful planning and patience foodies can experience all the California Michelin-starred restaurants. 

Many restaurants can be booked through the Open Table reservation system at www.opentable.com

Another popular reservation system is Tock, https://www.exploretock.com. 

Some restaurants include links to their reservations on their Facebook or website pages.   

Maude, a one-star Michelin restaurant in Beverly Hills will celebrate its ninth anniversary on Feb. 1. The restaurant is the brainchild of celebrity chef Curtis Stone.
Maude, a one-star Michelin restaurant in Beverly Hills will celebrate its ninth anniversary on Feb. 1. The restaurant is the brainchild of celebrity chef Curtis Stone. Courtesy Maude.

Three Stars 

The highest rating on the Michelin scale is three stars. There are 142 three-star restaurants in the world, California had seven of those until Jan. 1 when Manresa in Los Gatos closed.   

Addison, San Diego 

Addison, helmed by Chef William Bradley, is the first Southern California restaurant to earn three Michelin Stars.  

The French Laundry, Yountville 

Chef Thomas Keller’s in demand restaurant earned its three-star Michelin rating in 2006. 

Manresa, Los Gatos 

Chef and owner David Kinch closed the 20-year-old restaurant on Jan. 1, after the Michelin Guide Star revelation announcement.  

Quince, San Francisco 

Situated in San Francisco’s historic Jackson Square, Lindsay and Chef Michael Tusk’s celebrated Quince features Californian contemporary cuisine. 

Benu, San Francisco 

Corey Lee is the Seoul-born chef behind the three Michelin-starred Benu which was named to the list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021.” 

Atelier Crenn, San Francisco 

Dominique Crenn is the chef and owner of the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco.  

Crenn opened Atelier Crenn, a place to express her heritage, in January 2011. Atelier Crenn achieved its first Michelin Star within a year, in October of 2011. In 2012, Crenn made history when Atelier Crenn received its second Michelin Star, becoming the first female chef in the U.S. to receive this honor. In November 2018, Crenn became the first female chef in the U.S. to receive three Michelin Stars. 

Single Thread, Healdsburg 

In the heart of downtown Healdsburg, one of the country’s most accomplished chefs Kyle Connaughton, along with wife/farmer Katina Connaughton, own SingleThread Farm-Restaurant-Inn; a three Michelin-starred restaurant with five luxurious guest rooms. Healdsburg is in the center of Sonoma Wine Country. 

SoCal Michelin Stars 

For those looking to enjoy a special Michelin Star experience without traveling far from home the SoCal area is home to 34 Michelin Star restaurants.  

Restaurants with two Michelin Stars include:  

Hayato, Los Angeles 

Providence, Hollywood 

Sushi Ginza Onodera, West Hollywood 

n/naka, Los Angeles 

Mélisse, Santa Monica 

The SoCal restaurants with one Michelin Star include:  

Jeune et Jolie, Carlsbad 

Soichi, San Diego 

Sushi Tadokoro, San Diego 

Knife Pleat, Costa Mesa 

Hana re, Costa Mesa 

Taco María, Costa Mesa 

Morihiro, Los Angeles 

Phenakite, Los Angeles 

715, Los Angeles 

Sushi Kaneyoshi, Los Angeles 

Camphor, Los Angeles 

Kato, Los Angeles 

Orsa & Winston, Los Angeles 

Q Sushi, Los Angeles 

Shibumi, Los Angeles 

Kali, Hollywood 

Gwen, Los Angeles 

Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles 

Nozawa Bar, Beverly Hills 

Maude, Beverly Hills 

Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, Beverly Hills 

Manzke, Los Angeles 

Pasta | Bar, Encino 

Shin Sushi, Encino 

Hatchet Hall, Los Angeles 

Sushi I-NABA, Torrance 

Citrin, Santa Monica 

Caruso’s, Montecito 

Sushi by Scratch Restaurants: Montecito-Santa Barbara 

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