Parents, mentors, friends and family cheered on local Orlando, Tampa, and Miami chefs this evening as the first ever Florida Michelin Guide were announced at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes Orlando Resort. Looking over the list, I was proud of our city as the quality and expertise of our local restaurant scene has undoubtedly improved these past few decades, rivalling restaurants I’ve tried in major cities including New York City and LA. There were so many others who would just as easily have deserved a place on these lists, and hopefully, one day they will be, too.
Scroll on for the full list of Orlando awardees as well as an Interview with Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guide, and remarks from the MICHELIN Guide Chief Inspector.
The inaugural edition of the MICHELIN Guide Miami, Orlando and Tampa had inspectors finding a total of 14 One-MICHELIN-Star restaurants and a Two-MICHELIN-Star restaurant in all of Florida.
ORLANDO – RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS
Maxine’s on Shine
Black Rooster Taqueria
Primo at JW Marriott Grande Lakes Orlando
Four Flamingos, A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Ravello at Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World
The Polite Pig
Sear + Sea at JW Marriott Bonnet Creek
For more, visit: https://guide.michelin.com/us/en/florida/orlando/restaurants
“As you can see, Miami, Orlando and Tampa have very much to offer to international food and wine enthusiasts,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guides.
“These talented chefs and their committed teams create culinary experiences matched only by the amazing attractions of each city. This very first selection of the MICHELIN Guide in Florida highlights glittery Miami, storied Orlando and breathtaking Tampa, offering a unique blend of international cuisine and Florida flavors. Local foodies as well as travelers will enjoy exploring these mesmerizing and rich Florida culinary destinations.”
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami, led by Director of Culinary Operations Alain Verzeroli, received two MICHELIN Stars.
Here are the One-MICHELIN-Star restaurants from Orlando, with inspector notes from each (inspector comments in full on the MICHELIN Guide website and mobile app):
Capa (Orlando, Steakhouse)
At the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World; this steakhouse also flaunts a decidedly Spanish accent. Kick things off with ace tapas before indulging in a main dish, like flame-kissed ribeye with tamarind-ancho sauce.
Soseki (Orlando, Fusion/sushi)
This tiny operation with Chef Mike Collantes at the helm is an ideal illustration of a contemporary meal expressed by way of an omakase. A laser-like focus on local Florida produce results in a menu that changes monthly.
Kadence (Orlando, Japanese cuisine/sushi)
The omakase opens with hot dishes and cool sashimi. This is food that’s free-spirited, yet manages to honor the classic methods. Pacing is on point in sashimi like hamachi and hirame. Nigiri, like snapper with lemon and sea salt, will have you yearning for more.
Knife & Spoon (Orlando, Steakhouse)
This iteration from Chef John Tesar inside the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, is the picture of plush. Care and skill are the hallmarks of this team, as they turn out contemporary steakhouse fare woven with seafood.
Michelin Bib Gourmands
The MICHELIN Guide inspectors found 29 restaurants worthy of the Bib Gourmand designation, which recognizes great food at a great value. These are restaurants where one can have two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for under $49. There were 19 in the Miami area, seven in the Orlando area and three in the Tampa area.
The 2022 Miami, Orlando and Tampa restaurant selection will join the MICHELIN Guide selection of hotels, which features the most unique and exciting places to stay in Florida and around the world. Visit the MICHELIN Guide website, or download the free app for iOS and Android, to book unforgettable hotels and make restaurant reservations through partners OpenTable, Resy and SevenRooms.
We spoke with Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guides via e-mail to get more insight about the awards for readers.
Tasty Chomps Interview with Gwendal Poullenec, International Director of the Michelin Guides
Tasty Chomps: What is the demographic make up of the judges?
Mr. Gwendal Poullenec – The team of anonymous MICHELIN Guide inspectors includes men and women of various ages and backgrounds – more than 15 nationalities.
These international food experts all have at least 10 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Many have a culinary degree, experience in a professional kitchen and even a sommelier certification.
Besides their technical skills, they are most of all open-minded, curious, and able to embrace worldwide culinary scenes in their whole diversity and authenticity.
How do they judge? Can you take us through the process?
The MICHELIN Guide is unique because the decision to award a Star strictly considers only the food on the plate. The inspectors receive two years of training in the MICHELIN Guide’s methodology. They assess restaurants following five universal criteria:
o Quality of products
o Mastery of cooking technique
o Harmony and balance of flavors
o Personality of chef reflected on the plate
o Consistency between visits
This ensures that the quality of a Starred restaurant is the same around the world.
No one can tell the difference between a regular customer and a Guide inspector. Who they are, when they are visiting, and where they are dining are all kept secret. They choose restaurants to visit by doing extensive research, monitoring the market and documenting their experiences. They make their own reservations using aliases and pay the check just like any other restaurant guest.
Whether it’s for a recommended restaurant, a Bib Gourmand or a Star award, the decisions are made collaboratively to ensure consistency in the ratings. Not only is this system applied globally, but the decisions are also reviewed annually to ensure that restaurant-goers get up-to-date, relevant recommendations.
Why is it special for people who only know Michelin as the tire company?
The MICHELIN Guide was the first provider of restaurant recommendations.
Brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin founded their tire company in Clermont-Ferrand, France, in 1889. They knew that the more drivers were on the roads the more tires they could sell.
So they produced small red booklet in 1900 as a travel companion for new motorists. It included maps, as well as places to find mechanical repairs, food and lodging. The famous Michelin Stars debuted in 1926. And the rest is history.
Globally, out of more than 15,000 restaurants in all the Guides, only 14% of the selection has a MICHELIN Star. Less than 3% of the global selection is made up of two-MICHELIN-star restaurants. And less than 1% of the selection, or 134 restaurants in the world, makes up the three-MICHELIN-star category.
Can you share the impact of receiving a Michelin rating on a restaurant? And on the impact of tourism for a city?
It’s an achievement many chefs and their teams have worked for years to achieve. It’s also being part of a family, made up of the most talented professionals worldwide. These restaurants receive added attention from foodies, and reservations become a hot ticket.
Being a MICHELIN Guide destination elevates tourism for a destination. According to a 2019 study by Ernst & Young, 61% of frequent travelers would choose to visit a destination with a MICHELIN Guide presence over a comparable location without one.
57% of these travelers would extend their stay if a Michelin selection is offered, and 71% would increase their spending.
Remarks from the Michelin Chief Inspector at the recent US Travel IPW 2022 Conference in Orlando:
Hello everyone. As you have just heard from the international director of the Guides, Michelin goes to great lengths to keep its inspectors’ identity secret and to preserve the integrity of the selection process, so I’m unable to give you my name or show my face.
So I’ll simply introduce myself as the Michelin Guide’s Chief Inspector in North America. I rarely get an opportunity to share the inspector team’s perspectives with a large group, so this is a very special treat for me today. I can’t be too specific though, because it would ruin Thursday’s epic surprise-and-delight!
Florida was a fantastic experience for me and the inspector team. The inspectors quickly grew to appreciate the pulse of the Miami dining scene, which often includes zesty flavors, attractive design and seemingly a DJ booth in the corner of every restaurant.
This state is clearly a global dining destination where chefs from around the world want to set up shop. But there’s also home-grown talent here as well. We really enjoyed the diverse dining scene among – and within – the three counties we covered for this first selection to Florida.
Miami-Dade County is a truly international hotspot that includes prominent, globally renowned restaurant teams as well as chefs born and bred right here in the Sunshine State.
The city of Orlando and surrounding areas in Orange County is one of the world’s most frequented tourist destinations for its iconic theme parks. Yet it also showcases extraordinary eateries run by chefs and teams whose talents are on par with some of the finest restaurants in the world. And they’re tucked into places you might or might not expect.
The sparkling city of Tampa has a wealth of excellent dining options that cover myriad cuisines and feature high-quality products and impressive preparation.
The Florida selection brims with stimulating flavors and impressive menus from a range of cuisine types that include Cuban, Colombian and Indian to Mediterranean, French and Japanese. And the list goes on. As they say, it’s a small world after all.
People often wonder about the secret lives of Michelin Guide inspectors. Well, we are all veterans of the hospitality industry and many of us have a culinary degree, experience in a professional kitchen, and even a sommelier certification. We make recommendations only for the Michelin Guide and do not work for media outlets or other companies. And it’s also important to note that the team of inspectors includes people of various ages and backgrounds to ensure complementary profiles.
We choose potential restaurants to visit when creating a new or updating a current selection by doing painstaking research, monitoring the market and documenting our experiences. We make our own reservations using aliases and pay the check ourselves.
Whether it’s for a recommended restaurant, a Bib Gourmand or a Star award, these important decisions are made collaboratively to ensure consistency in our ratings. Not only is this system applied globally, but the decisions are also reviewed annually to ensure that restaurant-goers get up-to-date, relevant recommendations and that they receive the dining experience they expect.
Thanks again for the opportunity to let me tell you a little about being an inspector and about our first selection around Miami, Orlando and Tampa! We hope you’re as excited to experience the selection as we were to discover the dining treasures of Florida.
Special Thanks to Dipika Hernandez of Visit Orlando for her assistance with this report.