May/June 2018  (Volume 33, Issue 3)

Michelin Stars: Tales from the Kitchen

(2017) 82 min. In English, French, German, Italian & Japanese w/English subtitles. DVD: $349. DRA. Juno Films. PPR.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

The appealing globetrotting documentary Michelin Stars is much like its subject in that it deals with delicious food (for thought) dazzlingly presented. How did the tire company Michelin get into the business of bestowing star ratings to the top restaurants in the world? The simple answer is: to sell tires. When automobiles were new and drivers were few, the Michelin brothers reasoned that creating incentives for people to drive–such as going out for gourmet dining–would help wear tires down and sell more of same. Over time, the annual Michelin Guide took on a life of its own, earning significant cachet in the world of haute gastronomy. Filmmaker Rasmus Dinesen’s Michelin Stars takes viewers into the kitchens of some of the top-rated restaurants in North America, Europe, and Asia to meet brilliant chefs who talk about their individual drives and philosophies. Naturally, there is as much variety in their approaches as there are cuisines, but some of the most interesting material here centers on reflective chefs who cook in a sustainable way and extol the importance of buying ingredients locally. The top boss of The Michelin Guide is interviewed here, along with several food writers who help determine the number of stars that are assigned for establishments. Most of the chefs find it devastating to lose a star, and feel enormous pressure to maintain top-tier status. Sure to appeal to foodies, this is recommended. Aud: C, P. (T. Keogh)