Here's How Restaurants Can Lose Michelin Stars

When it comes to losing a Michelin star, inconsistency is key. At least that's what Michelin Guide director Michael Ellis told Bloomberg when it came to NYC's Gordon Ramsey at the London, which went from holding two of the high-honor awards to zero, according to Truly. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said the location "had issues with consistency, and consistency is a huge thing for us." As a result, it was stripped of its stars in 2013, according to Eater.

But to lose a Michelin star, you first have to be awarded one. Even with the hype surrounding the stars, the process of how they are awarded is still pretty tightly under wraps. According to Food Network, trained Michelin reviews pay multiple visits to buzz-worthy restaurants anonymously, judging if the service, ambiance, and food make an establishment worthy of the stars. 

The Michelin Guide's origin may surprise you. Developed in France in 1900 by the Michelin tire company, the guide was first meant as a need-to-know instruction manual for motorists, including information like how to change a tire and where to get gas (via the Michelin Guide site). It wasn't until the 1920s that the guide first mentioned a restaurant or hotel, and by 1926, the guide began to award restaurants little stars on the pages if they deemed them worthy.

How does a restaurant lose a star?

Now, the stars are awarded in levels. One means it's a "very good restaurant." Two mean the eatery's "worth a detour" due to "excellent cooking," and three, the most coveted of all, denote restaurants that are worth a trip in and of themselves, according to Food Network.

The most obvious answer to why the stars are taken away is the correct one: when the standards of a restaurant do not hold up. Twisted notes that Michelin star restaurants in each region are reevaluated year after year, so in order to keep stars indefinitely, a restaurant must remain consistently award-worthy and innovative.

And losing a star is as crushing as gaining a star is rewarding. Michelin is aware of the impacts — both emotionally and economically — of retracting a star, says Twisted, and never take the decision lightly. The fear of losing a star and the pressure of having one are concerning to some chefs, with one even calling it "a curse," according to Truly.

But even with the all-eyes-on-you nature of receiving a star and the possibility of losing it, chefs are honored to receive the award. Chef George Mendes of Aldea's in NYC (which is now closed, according to Eater) told Truly their star was "an accolade [that they] cherish" and described the guide as "one of the closest, most meaningful and validated" ways to gauge success.