Michelin Awards its Netherland Stars for 2016 in Amsterdam

A warm welcome at the DeLaMar Theater in Amsterdam for the Michelin star award ceremonies.
A warm welcome at the DeLaMar Theater in Amsterdam for the Michelin star award ceremonies.
TV Interviews at the ceremony.

To any chef working in Europe, the word Michelin means a lot. The tire company’s stars have defined the greatest restaurants across Europe since the end of World War II. Yesterday at the DeLaMar Theater, we found out which chefs will get new stars and which ones will keep their cherished designations for 2016.

On hand was Michael Ellis, the Michelin Guide’s director, and the theater was packed to the roof. A total of seven chefs would be getting stars today. And with a classic amount of French drama, they were revealed by a zooming in map on the screen, bringing up replicas of the page in the Netherlands Michelin guide, that showed the restaurant’s name.

Most of the seven chefs were in the audience, and as they were named, they came up on stage to ceremoniously don their new white chef coats with their Michelin star insignias. One chef joked that all he ever wanted to do is cook, but he had to admit it felt pretty great up there.

For one chef from Rotterdam, Mario Ridder, the owner of Joelia, he couldn’t make it to the ceremony. So Ellis placed a call to tell him the news as the packed theater listened. “You’ve won a Michelin star,” said Ellis. “Oh, ok, thank you,” said the chef. That was it! The audience got a big laugh from his calm nonchalant reaction to what to many would be epic, life-changing news.

Nobody in the Netherlands lost their coveted stars this year, Ellis said. In an interview, Ellis said that there are about 400 starred restaurants in the US, and they published their first Michelin guide to NYC 12 years ago.   So far there are  plans to create a US Michelin guide app, but it is coming out in 2016.

How many chefs lose stars every year?  Ellis said that about 150 chefs get this bad news every year, and almost double that gain stars.  But “we call ’em as we see them,” and there are no quotas for any country or region. In a small country like Holland, there were less than a dozen recipients, but in France, there might be 60.

“We try to give chefs a warning about their cooking, if we think that our inspectors might be thinking of taking away a star,” he said. “If they come see us, we’ll tell them not specifically, but we’ll let them know what our concerns are.”

The point of publishing these books in an era that has been shunning printed guidebooks, Ellis said, is to create an emotional bond to the Michelin brand with the consumer. Others have failed, like the Mobil guide, and others like Zagat have been consumed by internet giant Google.   “We don’t have a P and L for the guide, it’s not about making money. It’s about that association.”