If you are a lover of food, watch any of the many incredible cooking shows out there, or like to eat out (or dream of eating out) at the best restaurants in the world, you will have heard of Michelin stars.
Restaurants that hold these stars are a symbol of excellence, known across the globe for serving exquisite food prepared by world-class chefs, but are they to be found everywhere?
Here we will take a look at Australia and its chefs, and why the lack of Michelin stars in the country certainly doesn’t mean that there aren’t any Michelin-star-quality restaurants here.
Are there any Michelin-star restaurants in Australia?
The Michelin Star system awards a maximum of 3 stars to the crème de la crème of restaurants across Europe, Asia and America. Hordes of discerning inspectors descend on businesses all over their countries, writing reports that are gathered, rated and discussed annually at Michelin’s ‘stars meeting’.
Also known as the Michelin Guide, the Red Guide or the Red Book, the Michelin Star system is then published for all to see, with the ‘winning’ restaurants named with their corresponding number of stars to show how superb they are.
The lucky, or rather, well-earned recipients then get to show their value by placing the one, two or three Michelin Stars proudly for all to see. One star alone shows that you are a fantastic restaurant, two that you are of surpassing excellence, and for three-star restaurants, many would give, if not anything, then at least a lot to eat at.
While Michelin Stars are known and respected everywhere, you cannot find them in many parts of the world including Australia. Australia has many world-class restaurants that would surely earn at least one star if the Michelin Guide did reach here, but since it doesn’t we must look to other systems to discover the very best places to dine in this country.
What is the equivalent of a Michelin star in Australia?
The closest system to the Michelin Guide in Australia is the Australian Good Food Guide Chef Hat Awards. It may seem like quite a mouthful, if you’ll pardon the pun, but it is a thorough and consistent way of ranking restaurants and showing their quality in this country.
The system awards restaurants a number of points from 0-20, with 12-13 marking a good restaurant. After that, 14-15 points is a great restaurant, gaining one hat. Hats are the rough equivalent of Michelin Stars. 16-17 points get you two hats, a superb restaurant, and more gets you the third as the very best around.
While not precisely the same as the Michelin Guide, Australia’s Chef Hat Awards allow you to instantly spot a restaurant’s quality and level of excellence. You can see, for instance, that two Chef Hat caterer’s Dining Abode are a superior choice for your wedding or event as they have proven worthy of what is ostensibly two Michelin Stars.
Restaurants like Attica consistently rank in the top 50 best restaurants in the world and Sixpenny in New South Wales both have three Chef Hats, showing them to truly be worth the trip, but any restaurant with a hat or star respectively has to demonstrate a certain standard and quality.
Do any Australian chefs have Michelin stars?
Despite the Michelin Guide only being applicable in Europe, Asia and America, Australia has still managed to make its mark on the system and there are plenty of Australian chefs who have been awarded a Michelin Star.
Many have worked on television to promote different styles of cooking, encourage new talent to emerge, and have gained more visibility and notoriety, but there is still nothing like a Michelin Star on the international scene to showcase your skill. Some of the current Australian star chefs are:
- Curtis Stone
Familiar to those who watch shows like Top Chef Masters, Chef Stone opened up several restaurants including Maude, which won a Michelin Star at its location in Los Angeles. He has authored many books and is famed for only sourcing food locally and serving it in season.
- Shane Osbourne
Chef Osbourne has worked at restaurants around the world that have earned Michelin stars and opened his own restaurant in Hong Kong which got its first star in 2018. He has achieved both as part of a team and the leader of it, and embodies the standards of excellence and consistency.
- Sam Aisbett
Chef Aisbett opened up his restaurant Whitegrass in Singapore, demonstrating all of the best that Australian fine dining has to offer. It clearly went down a treat, and he got his first star in 2018.
- Tetsuya Wakuda
The self-named restaurant Tetsuya is widely agreed to be one of the top choices in Sydney, but since that obviously couldn’t qualify for Michelin Stars (though it no doubt would succeed if in the running) we must look further afield. Waku Ghin, his restaurant in Singapore, has held two Michelin Stars. Truly a restaurant to visit and Chef whose dishes you should sample if you get the chance.
- David Thompson
Known for being the first Thai restaurant to achieve the coveted first Michelin Star, Chef Thompson’s Nahm in London achieved the honour soon after it opened. He then went from strength to strength, with another branch opening in Bangkok to similar acclaim, and a newer project taking off in Hong Kong. Yet another Australian chef making a splash in the Michelin Guide.
It may be true that Michelin Stars cannot be awarded to restaurants in Australia, but there are certainly plenty of incredible restaurants that would earn a star if they could. The number of chefs with more than one star, and indeed more than one restaurant with Michelin Stars, only highlights the quality of chefs coming out of Australia.Without the Michelin Guide, the Australian Good Food Guide Chef Hat Awards are the best way to see at a glance what the best restaurants and catering firms there are near you. If they have one hat, and especially two or three, you can feel secure that they will provide an experience you won’t wish to forget.