The Real Reason Spago Lost Its Michelin Stars

Anyone who is familiar with Wolfgang Puck likely knows that it was Spago, the first restaurant he called his own, that skyrocketed him to fame in the '80s. The original restaurant was located on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood and moved to Beverly Hills in 1997 (via Elite Traveler). Nearly 10 years later, Spago earned two Michelin stars between 2008 and 2009. However, both of these stars were lost when the Michelin Guide returned to Los Angeles another decade later.

Today, Puck still holds two Michelin stars thanks to a pair of locations of his restaurant CUT (via Fine Dining Lovers). But between five different Spago outposts, none of them has the Guide's most coveted honor. Losing such a distinction can be heartbreaking and even career-altering for some lesser-known chefs who hope to build their reputation on a collection of stars. Obviously, Puck is one of the most famous and highly regarded chefs in the world, which gives him the luxury of not needing additional accolades to bring customers through his doors. That's likely why he doesn't seem to worry about gaining or losing Michelin stars.

This is how Spago lost the stars

Spago now holds a Plate rating from the Michelin Guide, which means that the experience is pleasant and the food is good, but not quite up to star standards. The organization takes its ratings incredibly seriously, with good reason. To lose stars, there are a series of evaluations by different, anonymous Michelin critics (via Truly Experiences). Inspectors dine at the restaurant and then file a report on their experience that includes the "quality of the ingredients, skill in preparation, and the combination of flavors, level of creativity, value for money, and consistency of culinary standards." Low points in one of these categories could become the primary downfall of restaurants that lose stars.

Michelin Guide international director Michael Ellis explained to Bloomberg that "consistency is a huge thing for us." That was why one of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants lost its stars, for example. Ellis added of Ramsay's restaurant, "I personally went there; we've had some very erratic meals." So while it's hard to say exactly why Spago lost its stars, which even surprised some critics, it could have been due to difficulty keeping everything up to the painstakingly high level of consistency that Michelin inspectors demand (via Fine Dining Lovers).