The Michelin Guide, first published in 1900, is a series of books listing the finest restaurants, pubs and hotels throughout various countries in Europe, Asia and North America. The guide bestows “stars” on the very best in each country, with chefs sometimes striving for decades for recognition by the judging panel.
The highly secretive club of Michelin Restaurant inspectors is looking for a new member – and in the job advert, they reveal some of the details on what it takes to be a world class restaurant critic. We read the notice (and a little between the lines) to learn what it means to be a professional eater.
The advert lists a number of responsibilities, and high on the list is “Maintains 100% anonymity both individually and of team members”. It seems almost impossible to maintain a hidden identity in a time of social media check-ins, tweets and ‘grams being an integral part of dining out. But more about that later.
Next on the list of requirements is “Makes a minimum of 275 inspection meals/visits per year” which is equal to one meal every day of the year except for Sundays, every second Saturday and 12 days of leave over the holidays. Sjoe, that’s a lot of eating! I suppose you could eat out for lunch and dinner today, and then take tomorrow off, but surely a time comes when all you want is some toast with apricot jam for lunch?
While you’re dining (or, on the job) you may “never take notes”, you must always “take high-quality photographs during each meal”, and then afterwards “write a detailed report for each meal, including one social media post from your experience”. I’m still a bit puzzled how one takes pictures and posts them on social media, while remaining anonymous. I wonder if there is a budget for wigs and other disguises?
When you’re not eating in restaurants, you will be expected to research, schedule, investigate and plan all of your travel arrangements including restaurant bookings and transportation details. You’re also expected to know everything there is to know about restaurants in your area – which chef is moving establishments, who is launching a new menu, what restaurants are closing this season and where all the new ones are opening up.
Do you qualify? Requirements include a “Bachelor’s degree in culinary, food studies, hotel management or equivalent degree” as well as “Attention to detail, strong skills of observation, memory for cuisine” and “Excellent writing skills”. “Solid organizational skills” are also a must, especially with the long, and sometimes unpredictable international travel requirements. Not listed is “a healthy appetite” which I think goes without saying.
After all of the ‘hard work’, there seems to be plenty of perks to a job with Michelin. Thankfully, they provide “fitness facilities at several company locations”, because after only eating at home one night a week, we’re going to need a bit of cardio! Unlike most American companies, they also offer Parental Leave, Maternity Leave and retirement benefits. And then of course, there is the privilege of being allowed membership into the food world’s most secret and exclusive club.
So Michelin editors, if you’re reading this expect my application shortly. That is, as soon as I decide whether I want the job or not…