Inside The Florida Michelin Guide Star Revelation Ceremony
Caviar, Champagne, and cheers at last evening's Florida Michelin Guide Reveal
On Thursday night, about 300 people gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando hotel to hear the induction of the restaurants into the inaugural Michelin Guide for Miami, Tampa, and Orlando.
There are few Michelin Guides in the United States (New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and California), so the opportunity to actually be invited to a Michelin ceremony is rare.
Invited chefs had no idea what was in store for them: Would names be read like a graduation ceremony? Would this be a large party? Would the Michelin Man be there? The answer to all of these questions is yes.
The event, called the Michelin Star Revelation Ceremony, was held in a party tent on the grounds of the hotel. As the chefs arrived — most wearing suits and sneakers — they were greeted by the Michelin Man himself in front of a Michelin-branded step-and-repeat.
Inside the tent, champagne flowed freely — as did caviar — as guests from around Florida mingled and speculated whom among them would be bestowed a coveted Michelin Star.
After the initial cocktail hour, the reception began. Gwendal Poullennec, the international director of the Michelin Guide, presided over the evening, saying that in total over 35 different types of cuisine were represented in the 118 restaurants that made it into the guide.
First, a Sommelier award was presented to Victoria James of Cote Miami. Rubel Rolon of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Le Jardinier (Miami) received the Exceptional Cocktails award.
The Bib Gourmand
The announcements for recipients of the “Bib Gourmand” (a restaurant that offers an exceptional value of a meal priced under $50) flashed fast and furiously on two screens on either side of the stage, with restaurant owners and chefs hurriedly rushing to get on the stage to claim their spot in the guide (and a red and white wooden Michelin Man to display in their restaurant). Three Tampa restaurants received a Bib Gourmand (Rooster & The Till, Ichicoro Ramen, and Rocca); Orlando received seven (Bombay Street Kitchen, Domu, Strand, Swine and Sons, the Ravenous Pig, and Z Asian); and 19 Miami restaurants received a Bib Gourmand (Bachour, Chug's Diner, Doya, El Turco, Hometown Barbecue, Ghee Indian Kitchen, Itamae, Krüs Kitchen, Lucali, La Natural, Lung Yai Thai Tapas, Mandolin Aegean Bistro, Michael's Genuine, Phuc Yea, Red Rooster Overtown, Sanguich de Miami, Tinta y Cafe, Zak the Baker, and Zitz Sum).
One Star Restaurants
As Poullennec announced each One Star winner, the stakes got higher in the room, with a few chefs notably fidgeting in their chairs and looking uncomfortable. As each restaurant was announced, the chef or restaurateur was ceremoniously given a white Michelin coat to wear before heading onstage — a surprising but lovely touch. Miami restaurants took home the bulk of the Stars, with 10 restaurants receiving One Star (Ariete, Boia De, Cote Miami, the Den at Azabu Miami Beach, Elcielo Miami, Hiden, Le Jardinier, Los Félix, Stubborn Seed, and the Surf Club Restaurant). Four Orlando restaurants received One Star (Capa, Kadence, Knife & Spoon, and Soseki), with no Tampa restaurants receiving Stars.
Only One Two Star in Florida
Only one restaurant, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Miami, received a Two Star designation, with no Three Star distinctions handed out in Florida.
At the end of the ceremony, Champagne was handed to the Star recipients, and a toast was made with the Michelin Man.
The party continued, with chefs comparing notes, trading hugs and selfies, and toasting with more Champagne.