What does it take to be a Michelin guide inspector?

By Stefan Chomka contact

- Last updated on GMT

What it takes to be a Michelin guide inspector

Related tags: Michelin, Michelin guide, Fine dining

A job advert for the North American guide reveals just what is required if you want to get paid to eat for a living.

Being a Michelin inspector must be high up there on many people’s list of dream jobs. After all, what’s not to like about a profession where you get paid to eat in some of the world’s best restaurants - not just occasionally but all the time. But it’s not a job for the faint hearted - or the weak stomached - as a job advert published by the guide for a restaurant inspector​ based out of New York city shows.

According to the job spec, the successful candidate will be required to make a minimum of 275 inspection meals and visits each year, which is a pretty gruelling pace to keep. They will likely have to sleep in more than 160 hotels and travel 19,000 miles every year, meaning the role is as tough on the gas tank as it is the gut.

How does it work?

How Michelin inspectors make their evaluations and come to their star making decisions is shrouded in mystery, but the process itself is more straightforward. The editor in chief of the guide prepares the inspector’s rounds each year with each assigned a different region to be covered.

Inspectors are on the road three weeks of every month eating, drinking and sleeping (sounds terrible, doesn’t it?) - and in the fourth week they return to the Michelin offices to present their report and prepare their next itinerary.

They are required to closely monitor a variety of media outlets, including blogs and social media to keep abreast of the latest restaurant openings, closings, chef movements and all other relevant information, and find out as much as they can about the place they are due to visit.

'Star sessions', as they are called, are organised and attended by the editor-in-chief and inspectors as well as the director of the guide, with the establishment tested until a unanimous decision is reached. So if Michelin comes mob-handed to a restaurant it could be in with a shout of being given a star or two (or three).

The job spec also states that as well as having to write a detailed report for each meal, an inspector must take high-quality photographs and make a social media post of their experience.

Who is it for?

While dark glasses and a false beard aren’t standard issue, a crucial part of the role is being able to stay anonymous, so it isn’t for someone who likes to stand out in the crowd. Inspectors must dine anonymously and are not allowed to take notes during a meal. They must also pay for every dinner - and are at liberty to introduce themselves to the restaurant only after the bill has been paid.

You'll also need to be somebody who is content with their own company. While Michelin doesn't specifically state that an inspector has to dine alone, given the number of restaurants visits each inspector makes it is unlikely the company will foot the bill for more than one person - so bring a good book.

Other job requirements include at least five years’ of experience in a hotel, restaurant or other relevant industry, extensive international knowledge of ingredients, culinary techniques, cuisines, and culinary fundamentals, and a ‘natural sensory talent for tasting, analysing food’, according to Michelin. Because of these requirements, the role of an inspector is often filled by hospitality school graduates, it says.

Still think it’s a dream job? You’ll work unsociable hours and do a lot of driving, but you’ll also get to do a lot of eating. Thankfully Michelin provides fitness membership reimbursement to help offset all of that eating - whether you’ll ever find the time to hit the treadmill is another matter.

The 2019 Michelin Guide for Great Britain & Ireland will be published on 1 October.

Related topics: Trends & Reports

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