Author: Tracy May
The world of Michelin-starred restaurants is truly quite fascinating. It puts you in a completely new culinary class. The question is “How relevant is Michelin?” What does it really take to have a Michelin star? Most decent chefs are always aiming for culinary excellence and produce a good and tasty plate of food. What happens when you add the words Michelin star into a recipe? Where does the path to Michelin perfection actually lead?
Cooking is said to be an endless pursuit for perfection that can never really be achieved. Restaurants who are deemed worthy are rated from one to three stars. However, it is still a secret how one can attain a Michelin star. Only specially trained inspectors know how to rate the cuisine, service as well as décor. They usually pay anonymous visits to restaurants and prepare meticulous reports after.
What do the stars mean?
A Michelin can only give up to three stars. The most coveted third star can only be attained by the world’s greatest restaurants. A single Michelin star signifies a “very good” while two stars is for “excellent cooking that is worth a detour. Those restaurants who have “exceptional cuisine” that is worth journeying are awarded with the ultimate accolade of three stars. The process of earning a star is painstaking and meticulous and usually takes years.
What are the criteria?
The evaluation process still remains a secret but there are known factors such as the chef’s mastery, cooking techniques and product quality. Food consistency is also considered to be able to give that ultimate dining experience. Earning a star doesn’t automatically earn you a ticket to receive a second or a third star. It will require more anonymous visits and will take more years.
The process may seem random from the perspective of a restaurant but there are steps that can be taken to increase the possibility of earning a Michelin star.
A Selection of the Finest Ingredients
Any great chef knows that the best ingredients are the key to the success of any dish. Michelin-starred chefs use only hard-to-find and unique ingredients. This is only possible by forging good relationships with cheese-makers, farmers and artisan bakers. The goal is to work with only the best and finest ingredients possible.
Creativity and Mastery of Dish
To be able to attract the attention of a Michelin, a restaurant needs continuous pursuit of excellence and cutting-edge food trends. If you are an innovative chef and your cuisine is continuously being talked about, there is no doubt that a Michelin will notice you.
Mastery of a particular cuisine allows a chef to push his/her boundaries and offer bold, new approaches to a dish. It only makes sense that a master chef focuses on a particular type of food that s/he is comfortable with and has mastered through the years.
Discipline and Meticulousness
Every restaurateur always assumes that every day someone would conduct a Michelin inspection. All chefs and staffs are meticulously trained and disciplined that every dish is perfected. They must ensure that everyone is having the ultimate dining experience as much as possible. Only then can a restaurant be a candidate for a Michelin star.
All chefs who are seeking a Michelin star must train under a chef who has already earned one. Being a protégé of a Michelin star chef can easily get on the radar of Michelin inspectors.
Further Restaurant Investments
A restaurant’s profits won’t win them a Michelin star. These profits must be used to train staff, search for high quality ingredients and improve décor. It can also be used to purchase the best cleaning supplies to achieve the ultimate standard of cleanliness. This could make all the difference when a Michelin inspector visits a restaurant.
It is unusual for a restaurant to spend millions on improving their services and facilities and not be noticed by a Michelin inspector. The chances of earning back the money spent for such investments is always high.
People from Portugal are mostly varied. Since they come from different places, they will try to serve you with varieties of foods. Traditional Portuguese food favors a lot of chicken, pork and seafood over beef which is paired with rice and a variety of beans. This is mainly because beef is more expensive compared to pork and chicken. Expect a lot of rice dishes because almost every single meal is served with it.
The combination of flavors make Portuguese dishes hearty but it can also be a bit caloric. People in rural areas of Portugal raise their own animals. This is why they make sure that they will be able to make the most out of their meat. They have enchidos which are sausages stuffed with almost every part of an animal just to make sure that no meat is wasted.
Portuguese cuisine is mainly composed of different varieties of soups and stews. They also like eating salad but instead of a dressing, they serve it with salty vinaigrette. They are also particularly fond of eating Bacalhau which is salted codfish. They say that even those who aren’t really fond of eating fish still like the Bacalhau. Their dishes are a bit saltier and spicier compared to other dishes. Most dishes are based on olive oil and natural products instead of heavy creams.
The Portuguese are also known for their amazing bread and pastries. A freshly-baked bread in a panaderia in Portugal is one of the best things you can ever have. There are also a lot of Portuguese dishes that have incorporated Brazilian and African style of cooking. Everyone who loves to eat will definitely enjoy Portuguese food.
- Cozido a Portuguesa (Traditonal Portuguese Hot Pot)
Cozido a Portuguesa is a classic dish that is mostly made up of boiled meat. This dish is also dubbed as the mother of all stews. This dish takes a while to prepare. It will depend on the weight and thickness of your choice of meat. Some prefer meats that are almost falling of the bone while others want those that are less tender.
Originally, this dish uses the cuts of meats that are cheaper such as a pig’s snout, feet, ear and blood sausage. However, if these particular parts disgust you, then you could always go to a sampling of meats such as beef, chicken and pork and just add sausage and vegetables.
- Arroz De Pato (Portuguese Duck Rice)
If you don’t particularly fancy pork meat then perhaps a duck dish would entice you. Arroz De Pato is perfect for those who are looking for a Portuguese dish that is not too complicated. Its great flavor comes from the rich duck stock absorbed by the rice which perfectly complements the shredded duck and chorizo chunks. This is the ultimate easy and quick meal that you have to keep an eye out for if you go to Portugal.
- Bacalhau a Bras (Scrambled Salted Cod With Eggs and Potatoes)
Bacalhau a Bras is the ultimate Portuguese comfort food. It uses bacalhau (also known as salted codfish) which is one of the staple dishes of Portugal. It is shredded and sautéed in a pan along with other ingredients such as potatoes, eggs, black olives, onions and parsley.
- Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato (Clams in White Wine)
The Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato is one of the most popular appetizers served in many Portuguese restaurants. These clams are cooked in butter, herbs, garlic, pepper, salt, olive oil and cilantro, mostly served with Portuguese bread that is dipped into the sauces. This dish can be also enjoyed with beer.
- Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)
Caldo Verde is considered as the national dish of Portugal. The soup gets its distinctive texture and character from the finely-cut slices of kale. This is best served as a light supper during cold winters. It is normally served with cornbread for dipping and pork sausage (also known as “linguica”).