Established over a century ago, the Michelin Guide has become the gold standard for culinary excellence and a trusted resource for global food enthusiasts. While primarily known for its prestigious star ratings awarded to exceptional restaurants, the Michelin Guide offers more than mere dining recommendations.
However, stars do not appear overnight. To meet their intense reliability standard, Michelin requires that restaurants be assessed and rated by a collective of inspectors who visit the establishment multiple times. Inspectors must work solely for Michelin to maintain independence and always pay fully for their meals.
“Our inspectors have been in the field for years to monitor the evolution of the local culinary landscape, and we are proud and happy to reveal the vibrancy and real potential of Dubai as a gastronomic hotspot,” says Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides.
For the most part, earning a Michelin star, inclusion within the guide, or being recommended as a Bib Gourmand helps catapult a restaurant into the global spotlight, bestowing upon it a prestigious reputation recognized and revered by culinary connoisseurs. The international recognition attracts discerning diners, leading to increased visibility, footfall, and, ultimately, higher revenue.
But what is the specific impact on a restaurant’s bottom line? With the introduction of the Dubai and Abu Dhabi Michelin guides in 2022 and the recent second ceremony for Dubai in 2023, what has the impact on the market been so far?
GROWTH FOR CULINARY TOURISM
For most restaurants, earning a Michelin star can significantly impact financial performance. The heightened visibility translates into increased reservations and a surge in demand, allowing restaurants to command premium prices and boost their revenue significantly.
Moreover, the Michelin Guide plays a crucial role in promoting culinary tourism. Cities and regions are renowned for their Michelin-starred establishments, attracting a steady stream of food-loving tourists willing to explore and indulge in the local dining scene. The resulting influx of visitors provides a substantial economic boost to the hospitality industry, with hotels, transportation services, and other businesses reaping the benefits.
From Dubai Tourism, the decision to maintain the guide has been important for the city. Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, says, “The launch of the Michelin Guide Dubai has had a transformative impact on our city’s culinary landscape, bolstering our efforts to showcase Dubai as a global gastronomy capital. With 90 Dubai-based restaurants now featured in the second edition of the guide, from 69 in the inaugural edition launched last year, including several Michelin-starred restaurants, it truly reflects the continuous growth of our food services industry.”
Reacting to the restaurant’s one-star commendation last November in Abu Dhabi, Chef Luigi Stinga, chef de cuisine at Talea by Antonio Guida, says, “The impact of the Michelin star has been excellent for Talea. We started welcoming more foreign guests, and many people have traveled from Dubai to try Talea. Tourists are also coming to Abu Dhabi who are interested in gastronomy. They do the tour of trying the three Michelin star restaurants in the city.”
With several distinctions awarded in the 2023 Dubai Michelin Guide, Kym Barter, Vice President, Food and Beverage, Atlantis Dubai, also had insights to share. He says one of the success stories came from one of the world’s most unique and exciting restaurants, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Helmed by Chef Tom Allen at Atlantis The Royal, the restaurant was awarded one Michelin star, with Arturo Scamardella, Head Sommelier of Dinner, taking home the coveted Sommelier Award.
“After the announcement, interest peaked, and we saw a 20% increase in covers vs. the previous week. The team has also seen a noticeable increase in guest engagement, with many requesting tours of our impressive show kitchen to witness iconic dishes. We have also seen the average check remain relatively consistent since the ceremony, which is promising.”
Furthermore, Ossiano, led by one of the region’s most creative and innovative chefs, Chef Grégoire Berger, retained its star, resulting in an upside vs. 2022 regarding bookings made via the Michelin website. Over the past 12 months, the restaurant has also seen an average of four tables per night being booked by guests who want to dine there to add Ossiano to their list of Michelin-awarded venues visited.
Barter also shares that Hakkasan saw several increases vs. the same time last year, including a 10% improvement in external guest count and a 32% growth in its signature set menus sales.
“What is clear is that tourists and residents alike are looking for familiarity, which is what Michelin-starred restaurants offer.”
The Michelin Guide is a trusted compass for diners in the vast dining options. The star ratings and recommendations offer an assurance of quality, allowing diners to embark on culinary adventures and further enhancing the guide’s impact.
Homegrown bistro 21grams has received a good response from the local community since receiving a Bib Gourmand designation, says Stasha Toncev, Soul Kitchen Officer. “The prestigious recognition has enhanced our reputation locally and sparked global interest. While we anticipate seeing the true effects on a global level in the upcoming season, we are already thrilled to have garnered interest from talents from all corners of the world, eager to join our team.”
From Tresind Studio, which recently moved from one to two stars — the only restaurant on Dubai’s list to do so this year — the impact has been quick. Chef Himanshi Saini, corporate chef for Passion F&B and the executive chef of Tresind Studio, says, “We have certainly seen its impact in our restaurant since the Michelin Guide is religiously followed by diners who travel around the world just to eat at the best restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide, and Dubai is the highest tourist attraction as it is, the interest to visit Michelin star restaurant is evident.”
Overall, restaurants that earn Michelin stars benefit from enhanced prestige, increased revenue, and the opportunity for continuous growth. Diners, conversely, gain access to a curated selection of extraordinary culinary destinations and the assurance of a remarkable dining experience.
It catalyzes culinary tourism, is a driver of innovation, and is a trusted companion for food enthusiasts seeking unforgettable gastronomic adventures. The investment made by restaurants and diners in the Michelin Guide pays off rich dividends, shaping the global culinary landscape and enriching the lives of all who engage with it.
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