Like dusk dissolving into dark to reveal the great constellations above, Michelin has unveiled its New York stars for 2022.
Hospitality’s biggest night followed the publisher-cum-automobile-part-manufacturer’s guide additions and its Bib Gourmands (a category that aims to honor particularly affordable-ish destinations), both announced in recent months.
Michelin’s marquee sparklers were finally revealed at Peak viewstaurant on Manhattan’s west side in a ceremony this evening. The awards aim to spotlight “the finest dining” via one (“high-quality cooking, worth a stop”), two (“excellent cuisine, worth a detour”) or three (“exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”) stars.
More precisely, stars are granted when Michelin’s famously anonymous inspectors can identify a combination of “outstanding cooking,” “mastery of techniques,” ingredient quality, “the personality of the chef as expressed in their cuisine” and “consistency.” Only “the food on the plate” is under consideration, however Instagrammable a place may be. Inspectors travel the world dining out about as many times a year as there are days.
“The mission has been faithful to its methodology for more than one century now,” Michelin Guides' International Director Gwendal Poullennec said in a phone conversation before the ceremony. “The dynamics amongst the selections reflect, first of all, the evolution of the quality of the local culinary scene, and that’s what is exciting.”
“If the ratings are changing, it’s not because the mission, or methodology, or approach is changing, but it’s just because the restaurants are raising their game.”
This year’s nods include some of the splashiest locales in the business and a few fewer hashtagged venues. An anonymous inspector detailed how the acclaim gets made before the event.
“One of the most important things for the inspector team to do is to understand the local territory, and to really both be attuned to where people are going, what’s opening, which chef is moving from which place to which place. We follow that very, very closely,” the inspector said. “And we use all sorts of information, social media, local press. Chefs contact us directly, which is great.”
The inspector declined to say who, if anyone, requested Michelin consideration for this edition.
“And it's also being boots on the ground, being out in the field. Knowing our neighborhoods quite well, being attuned to what could be opening, and just going to the meal and experiencing it is the only way to ensure that we can be certain that it either is or is not appropriate for either being a recommended restaurant or Bib, or maybe have potential to be an awarded restaurant,” the inspector said.
Stars went to 73 restaurants across 15 culinary categories, including 19 newcomers. First-time star recipients include Clover Hill and Mari, with one each, and Saga, with two. The trio has previously been appointed stars by Time Out New York. Al Coro Italian restaurant also scored a shiny new pair. Top plant-based spot Dirt Candy and Semma, the follow-up to Dhamaka, our pick for 2021’s best restaurant, are also both newly anointed with one each.
There were no emerging three-star stunners this year, but five restaurants with that uniquely exalted status—Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Le Bernardin, Masa, Per Se and even beleaguered Eleven Madison Park—were allowed to keep their acclaim.
Unlike last year, a few still-operational spots did lose stars. As with the awards, “[W]hen it comes to demotion, this too is given very, very serious consideration,” the inspector said. “It's the result of several meals over a span of time that perhaps have proven unconvincing to the global inspection team that the restaurant is appropriate to continue at its current distinction, or star level. So, just as we make the decision to award a star, it's over quite a span of time, and over several meals, that the decision to make a demotion occurs."
Three two-star restaurants exited the list: The temporarily closed Blanca and L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and the permanently closed Ichimura at Uchū. Single-starred Benno also departed after closing, but its previous one-star peers Ai Fiori, Carbone, The Clocktower, L’Appart, Marea, Meadowsweet, Peter Luger, Wallsé and ZZ’s Clam Bar are still open and now sans star.
See the entire list of NYC’s Michelin-starred restaurants for 2022 here.