The Truth About the Michelin Star
January 24, 2023
The Michelin Star is the ultimate title a restaurant can achieve. It’s earned based on food, service, and the overall restaurant experience. Getting a Michelin Star is the hardest thing a restaurant can do, with about 2,100 restaurants in the entire world having the title. Now imagine two stars. There are only 300 of those, and 100 three stars.
One day my mom barged in my room to tell me she’s gone behind my back and hired me to be a host at a 2 Michelin Star restaurant in NYC, where I lived. I brush it off, remembering that she does these things all the time and they never follow through. But to my surprise she congratulated me, telling me I got an interview. Shocked and reluctant, the next day I dressed up in the heaviest makeup and tightest ponytail I’ve ever worn. I get there. It’s fancy. I’m scared. But I nail it. The manager, one of the most intimidating men I’ve ever met (a 50 year old 5’5 blond French guy), immediately saw that I was dressed for the occasion (drenched in makeup and physically injuring myself to pull off a hairdo) and laughed at all my jokes. He hires me with these words, in a singsong voice: “Oh we are going to abuuuuuse you”. I smile and nod, shocked and trying to keep my composure about the 23 USD (30 CAD) an hour that I’m about to make.
I worked there for 4 months full time. You hear upscale dining Michelin Star restaurants and probably think behind the scenes is stress, tears, and a high turnover. And it was exactly that. But I got lucky though, I was just a mere little host who stood there hiding my phone for 7 hours, watching all the drama unfold. There was screaming, gossip, firings happening in front of my face, all while I just stood there trying to remember the table numbers and wondering when my next meal was (they didn’t give us breaks).
And yes, it was rowdy, ugly, and hateful. But what’s truly so ironic is how chill it also was at the same time. My managers were sweethearts. Constantly letting me go outside for fresh air if I needed, being so understanding about not being able to come in, always checking up on us to make sure we’re feeling our best. Everyone was friends. Sure there was drama, but it was one of the most loving environments I’ve ever witnessed. These people loved each other, and they made it known everyday. It was a place where I truly felt at home, as each day I would come into a stress-filled family fight where everyone made up and loved each other after.
I know what it takes to get that Michelin star. It takes passion, hard work, and pain. True pain. But along with that pain is the love, which is the most rewarding part of it all. At the end of each service, everyone wipes their sweat and high fives each other, knowing that the shift was hard but at least the love amongst everyone made it worth it.