With an awards ceremony held in Istanbul, the Michelin Guide welcomed 53 new restaurants based in the bustling city to its offerings. Of the lot, five were awarded the much-coveted stars, be they one or two.

An early version of the Michelin Guide from the turn of the century was offered free of charge to motorists.
An early version of the Michelin Guide from the turn of the century was offered free of charge to motorists. (Courtesy of Michelin)

One of the most well-known brands in France has been publishing the prestigious Michelin Guide since the 19th century.

Brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin’s tyre company, founded in 1889, used to produce a small guide for motorists on places to eat and sleep during travels, which they hoped would encourage automobile trips and thus the need for tyres.

While the booklet used to be free of charge, a chance encounter at a tyre shop convinced Andre Michelin that it should cost at least a small amount, for, as the Michelin Guide website says, “man only truly respects what he pays for.”

The offence? The tyre shop workers had used the Michelin guidebooks to prop up a workbench.

This led to the new Michelin Guide in 1920, selling for seven francs.

Six years later, the guide started awarding stars – at the start with just a single one. In 1931 the guide began to use a star system of zero, one, two and three stars, and five years after that, the guide explained the criteria of how its mystery diners awarded the stars.

On October 11, 2022, the Michelin Guide announced the addition of 53 new restaurants located throughout Türkiye’s cultural capital Istanbul to the guide. The restaurants had applied for inclusion to the guide after it had announced Istanbul as its 38th destination.

The restaurant TURK Fatih Tutak, led by the chef Fatih Tutak, earned two Michelin stars, the highest honour received by a Turkish restaurant for the 2023 guide.

Tutak cut his teeth at international restaurants, working in Qingdao, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, as well as Noma Copenhagen, selected as the best restaurant in the world multiple times.

Tutak returned to Türkiye in 2019, serving dinner from 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm at his namesake restaurant in Sisli, Istanbul.

Tutak’s restaurant was the only one in Istanbul to receive two stars. Four other restaurants received a single star, which are Mikla, Nicole, Neolokal and Araka.

The BBC notes that the criteria for the Michelin Guide is somewhat shrouded in mystery: “Michelin keeps much of its approach under wraps, but does outline five main criteria for inclusion in the guide - quality of the products; mastery of flavour and cooking techniques; the personality of the chef in his cuisine; value for money; and consistency between visits.”

According to the guide, ten restaurants in Istanbul were deemed worthy of the ‘Bib Gourmand’ award, which is given out to eateries that offer a perfect price-performance balance.

These restaurants are: Pandeli, Karakoy Lokantasi, Alaf, Aheste, Tershane, Giritli, Calipso, Cuma, SADE Bes Denizler Mutfagi, and Aman da Bravo.

Michelin restaurant inspectors generally visit each restaurant multiple times, ensuring that the quality of the food is consistent across their visits, as well as paying for their own food, in order to prevent any errors of judgement.

The impressions of the inspectors of each of the 53 qualifying Istanbul restaurants can be read here. Overall, there were five-starred restaurants, 10 Bib Gourmand restaurants, and 38 recommended restaurants in addition to the starred and Bib Gourmand restaurants.

For his eco-friendly and ethical approaches to cooking, chef Maksut Askar also received the Michelin Green Star for his restaurant Neolokal, in addition to the one star it has received from the inspectors.

Last but not least, the Michelin Guide inspectors awarded the Michelin Young Chef and Michelin Service Awards.

In Istanbul, the young chef chosen for the honour was Mevlut Ozkaya of Murver Restoran, while the service award presented by Mastercard was given to Sunset Grill & Bar.

Source: TRT World