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  • If you've ever watched a racing event or have a general interest in cars and motorsport

  • you probably recognize this little guythe Michelin man.

  • It's the mascot of the French tire manufacturer Michelinthe second largest tire manufacturer

  • in the world.

  • They have made tires for the Bugatti Veyron, the famous caterpillar dump trucks and even

  • the space shuttle as well as for millions of people all over the world of course.

  • But its logo also shows up in other, quite surprising places: at the entrances of fancy

  • restaurants.

  • Most people probably know what a Michelin star is and what it representsat least

  • in essencebut not everyone will instantly make the connection between this Michelin

  • and this Michelineven though the name should make this pretty obvious.

  • So how did this happen?

  • How did a tire company come to rate restaurants and why is this this of all things the most

  • prestigious award a restaurant or a chef can receive?

  • To understand this we have to go back more than 100 years to the year 1900.

  • It was the beginning of the automobile boomIn France around 3000 people owned a car

  • at that time and with the first cars going into mass production it was foreseeable that

  • this number would rise quickly in the next few years and especially decades.

  • The brothers Édouard and André Michelin, the owners of a newly established tire company,

  • had already gained attention for their invention of a new replaceable air-filled tyre but the

  • market was still too small to really profit from it.

  • So they started to look for ways to promote the continual progress of automobiles in the

  • country and to convince more people to buy cars as well as to promote their new company

  • and product.

  • Their idea: a guide for motorists.

  • Travel guides were a popular thing at the time.

  • With a growing market for long distance tourism there was a sudden demand for quality information

  • about far-flung places.

  • Murray's Handbooks for travellers and the German Baedeker Guides had come out only a

  • few decades earlier and had been hugely successful.

  • The Michelin Brothers saw a gap in the market for a guide specifically aimed at motorist

  • that would provide drivers useful information such as maps, tire repair and replacement

  • instructions, petrol station and car mechanics listings as well as listing of suitable restaurants

  • and hotelsinformation that would be otherwise difficult to find.

  • The Brothers were right and the Michelin Guide became an almost instant success which prompted

  • them to quickly publish the guide in other countries as well such as Belgium in 1904,

  • Algeria and Tunisia in 1907 Italy Switzerland and the Netherlands in 1908, Germany Spain

  • and Portugal in 1910 and Ireland and the British Isles in 1911 - expanding the company's reach

  • internationally.

  • In the early 1920s when cars had become a lot more common the focus of the Michelin

  • Guide on tire and car maintenance then gave way to classic guidebook fare.

  • Due to the rising popularity of the restaurant section of the book, the section was restructured

  • and expanded.

  • To ensure the quality of the listings the brothers recruited a team of so-calledinspectors”,

  • full-time food critics that would travel the country, visit restaurants anonymously and

  • review them: A practise that has remained relatively unchanged until today.

  • A few years later in 1926 they then made the most important change, by introducing stars

  • to award particularly good restaurants.

  • Initially they only gave out single stars but in 1931 the system was expanded to the

  • three-star-system we know.

  • Today, nearly 90 years later a new Michelin Guide is still being published every year

  • and while its origin as guide book for motorist is long forgotten by most it has since then

  • become maybe the most prestigious restaurant award in the world - but why?

  • Why is its rating so highly valued by chefs?

  • One reason is certainly the company's and the guide's long history.

  • Michelin survived two world wars and many recessions over its long 130 year existence.

  • It now ranks among the 30 oldest companies in France.

  • During all this time they never gave up on their odd marketing item which meant it quickly

  • became one of the most well-known travel guides in the world.

  • One advantage the Michelin guide had over other guides particularly during the rough

  • first half of the 20th century was that its profitability was never a concern.

  • In the first 20 years the guides were given out for free and even after they started to

  • charge money for it in 1920 it very likely remained unprofitable for a long time.

  • But because its editors could count on the Michelin marketing department covering its

  • costs this was never an issue.

  • And so this odd marketing expense withstood the test of time.

  • It also meant that they could strive for a level of quality that other Publishers couldn't.

  • The maps for instance were some of the best in the world.

  • They were so well made in fact that Michelin guides were given out to British and US soldiers

  • during World War II.

  • Then there was the fact that the company hired dozens of full time food critics just to review

  • restaurants all year round, year after year - Another thing that only they could afford

  • and clearly made the guide stand out among the competition.

  • But perhaps the most important factor was exclusivity.

  • Driving in the early 20th century was very much limited to the rich and the famous.

  • So the Guide was initially heavily geared towards this demographic.

  • As a result the selective standards for what to include were notoriously strict and elitist

  • and only the crème de la crème of restaurants was considered for a star.

  • Only a few dozen maybe even only a handful of restaurants were awarded stars in each

  • country.

  • Even after 1950 when cars were no longer just a luxury item and the guide had already more

  • than 100.000 readers the strict exclusive selection process remained.

  • This combinationthe combination of popularity and exclusivity made recognition by the Michelin

  • Guide a big deal for restaurants.

  • It was a sure-fire way to make your restaurant stand out among the competition: A star meant

  • overnight recognition.

  • It elevated the restaurant from one in thousands to one in a few dozen.

  • It guaranteed a surge in new customer for the next year and moreit was simply very

  • very good for business, which is why the stars became a very valuable and sought-after honour

  • among restaurants and chefs This was of course not the intention or goal

  • behind the guide but simply a by-product of its selection process and criteria and its

  • reputation.

  • Nonetheless it meant that the Michelin Guide and its stars quickly became more consequential

  • for restaurants and chefs than perhaps any other honour and it has remained like this

  • ever since.

  • I know this video wasn't the type of science video I usually do so I thought we could end

  • it with a little science quiz to make up for that.

  • Here's the problem: Imagine you and a flock of little birds weighing

  • as much as you do eat together day after day.

  • Which of you would need to eat more calories to stay alive?

  • Did you get it?

  • If you enjoy problem solving exercises like this I suggest you check it out brilliant

  • - a learning platform that uses exercises like this to teach you mathematics, physics

  • and computer science.

  • The problem I just gave you was one of their daily challenges - free exercises released

  • each day that test your problem solving skills and make you a little smarter in the process.

  • You can check out the correct answer as well as the explanation for it with the link in

  • the description.

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  • in brilliant's over 60 courses.

  • So if you are unsure whether brilliant is something for you can try out as many of these

  • as you want for free.

  • And if you do like it you can go to brilliant.org/fim to get 20% of your premium subscription.

  • If you made it this far without turning off, here are a few more things that I couldn't

  • fit in the main part of the video.

  • As I said in the video, the way the restaurants are reviewed is by a group of inspectors,

  • which are essentially full time food critics hired by Michelin.

  • Today they have around 150 of them all over the world.

  • In the UK for instance it's around a dozen.

  • Each inspector has between 260-300 lunches and dinners during a year in the various restaurants

  • in the country that have stars or aspire to receive one.

  • Restaurants with one star are usually visited 2-3 times during a year while the ones with

  • 2-3 stars are visited up to 10 times or more by multiple inspectors.

  • That's to ensure the restaurant has retained the high standard necessary for the award.

  • So restaurants can also lose stars.

  • One of the most notable things about these inspectors is the secrecy.

  • In order to make the reviewing process as authentic as possible and to ensure the incorruptibility

  • of the rating the inspectors visit the restaurants completely anonymously.

  • Michelin goes to extraordinary lengths to maintain this anonymity.

  • All the expenses are paid for the inspectors, which in turn are not allowed to disclose

  • that they are inspectors at any point while they are working.

  • They are also not allowed to talk to journalists and are even advised not to tell their friends

  • and family they are working for Michelin.

  • This of course means that the restaurants and chefs never know if there's currently

  • an inspector among their guests which essentially makes every day the most important day of

  • the year.

  • Its like as if during the last year of high school each day could be the day that decides

  • whether or not you are allowed to go to university and you don't know which one it will be

  • - Understandably stressful.

  • Even just maintaining a star can be a burden as losing it would have a devastating effect

  • on the restaurant.

  • Which is why some chefs have said they did didn't like receiving a starsome because

  • of the increased stress level and expectations among the customers other said they didn't

  • like the publicity it caused and still others that it led to an unmanageable jump in booking

  • and affected their ability to serve their loyal customers.

  • So while the recognition by the guide is definitely good for business it can also be a double

  • edged sword.

  • So that's about it.

  • Don't forget to check out brilliant and thanks for watching.

This Video was sponsored by Brilliant.

Subtitles and vocabulary

B1 INT UK michelin guide tire brilliant restaurant star

A Tire Company Gives Out The Most Prestigious Food Award - Here's Why

  • 26 0
    王杰   posted on 2020/05/16
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