A History of the Michelin Guide

It is widely known that a great way to earn trust with your clients is to spend valuable face time with them. One sure-fire way to get on their calendar: take them to a critically acclaimed restaurant. Finding that perfect restaurant is made much easier thanks to resources like the esteemed Michelin Guide—the ultimate guide to the best restaurants in the world.

Now, you might be wondering, “What do tires have to do with critically acclaimed food?” Trust us, when we first got started in the biz, we were very curious too. But in doing some research, we discovered the story of how Michelin—a French tire company—became the authority on fine dining. It all centered around boosting automotive travel, thus encouraging tire sales, starting in the year 1900. And after we checked out a few Michelin starred restaurants over the years, we have have to say, the tire guys got it right.

A history of the Michelin Guide

In 1900, there were fewer than 3,000 cars on the roads in France. Édouard and André Michelin, brothers and tire manufacturers, wanted to boost the demand for cars and therefore tires. So they published the first-ever Michelin Guide—a guide for French motorists with maps, tire repair and replacement instructions, car mechanic listings, hotels and gas station locations throughout France. The Michelin brothers printed nearly 35,000 copies of this free guide. Four years later, the brothers published a similar guide in Belgium.

As the tire company grew, so did the Michelin Guide. The company printed different editions for countries across Europe. And in 1926, the guide focused in on the industry that makes it famous today—fine dining. Five years later, the company created a rating system, which represents how far you should travel to taste the restaurant’s cuisine.

The rating system

  • One Michelin star: “A very good restaurant in its category”
  • Two Michelin stars: “Excellent cooking, worth a detour”
  • Three Michelin stars: “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”

That starring system is still used today, but the guides have expanded to North America, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific. In the U.S., Michelin Guides are released in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

If you’re lucky enough to live in one of those cities, or be traveling to one soon, we’d highly recommend trying one of the Michelin-starred restaurants below. Kapow is proud to partner with these Michelin-awarded chefs and restaurants, and we hope to entertain you at one soon!

Sixteen Chicago

Spiaggia Chicago


GT Fish & Oyster Chicago

Boulud Sud New York

DBGB Washington, DC


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