The Other Critics

What It Takes to Be a Michelin Inspector

As much as one theoretically envies food critics, there are some occupational hazards to the job. Beyond the health risks, there’s the near inability to simply enjoy a night out at a restaurant as well as what our own Adam Platt refers to as “tablecloth fatigue.” But the duties of Platt, Sam Sifton, et al., seem like a carefree summer internship compared to the joyless life of a Michelin guide inspector. New Yorker writer John Colapinto joined an inspector (code name Maxime) for lunch at Jean Georges recently for what turned out to be a rare meal with company, “since talking with a spouse or friend is frowned upon.”

Maxime eats out more than two hundred days of the year, lunch and dinner. She eats the maximum number of courses offered—at Jean Georges, we were having three courses, plus dessert; that way, she said, “you really get to see the most food”—and she is required to eat everything on her plate. It is a regimen that calls to mind the force-feeding of the ducks that supply Vongerichten with his velvety foie gras …

If you still think it’s the job for you, it might be time to go back to school. Michelin requires its inspectors to have a degree in hospitality, hotel management, or cooking. The pay, of course, is lousy.

Lunch With M. [NYer]

What It Takes to Be a Michelin Inspector