Have you ever wondered why South Africa does not have any Michelin-starred restaurants?
As South African-born chef, Jean Delport recently became only the second South African chef to receive a star, we thought it good to explain why there aren’t actually any Michelin-starred restaurants in South Africa.
Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen was the first South African chef to be awarded a Michelin star.
Back in 2016, Jan-Hendrik was awarded his first star as the chef patron for his Restaurant Jan in Nice (in Nice, France). Now, Jean received his star for his restaraunt Interlude in Sussex, South East England.
The reason why Jan-Hendrik and Jean did receive their Michelin stars was due to the fact that they run their restaurants overseas. At the moment there isn’t any Michelin-starred restaurants in South Africa. And there’s a very good reason why:
According to TimesLive, there are not any starred restaurants in South Africa because Michelin’s inspectors do not operate here, or anywhere in Africa. They only cover parts of Europe and Japan, some cities in the US, and other places such as Shangai, Singapore, Seoul, Rio, Thailand and Bangkok. In fact, there’s an annual guide for 23 countries in total.
It simply comes down to where the Michelin system operates.
According to Lookers, the guide originated in France. Originally they were a feature of the Michelin guide books published in 1900 by Andre and Edourd Michelin – the founders of the Michelin tyre company.
Having started the company in 1889 the brothers were looking for a method to compel the then limited number of drivers to make more journeys and by extension, buy more tyres. The guide listed a wealth of information for motorists which included where to find the best meals and accommodation whilst touring in their cars.
As the business grew, so did the guide, becoming so popular that a charge was introduced in 1920.
By then, the dining element was in such high demand that Michelin decided to set up a team of inspectors whose job it was to visit – anonymously – and rate restaurants on a three-category basis. The rating systems – which are still in place today – was referred to as ‘Michelin Stars’.
Three stars being ‘exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey’, two stars ‘excellent cooking, worth a detour and one star, a very good restaurant in its category’
By 1933, 23 restaurants in France were rated with three stars. It was further extended to cover other European countries and while suspended during and immediately after WW2, the 1951 edition saw the return of the three-star rating system. This time however the bar had been raised resulting in fewer restaurants achieving the maximum rating.
Today, stars are awarded selectively to a small number of restaurants globally, for outstanding quality.
“The image of Michelin is that of a premium, high-quality brand. And some say that the Michelin Guide is the Bible of all dining guides,” said Tony Fouladpour, Michelin director of corporate public relations in the past.