Michelin starred restaurants are undeniably an amazing experience. It’s not only about great food at restaurant of this caliber. It’s about the service, the exploration, the celebration and the whole evening’s worth of entertainment. I have absolutely loved each and every Michelin starred restaurant I have ever had the privilege of eating at. But as much as I wish they were, meals like that aren’t every day occurrences. First, I’d have to quit my job to work out enough to make up for that kind of eating! Second, there simply aren’t that many Michelin starred restaurants, and the choices are especially limited in the United States. Plus, the American Michelin starred restaurants are very clustered, leaving much of the country totally bald of Michelin munchies. (I just made that up! Michelin, feel free to use that for your marketing materials!) So, what do you do if you want a Michelin star experience, but aren’t near one of these fabulous restaurants? Well, here are some tips.
Follow the chefs
One of my favorite ways to feel like I’m dining in the utmost style is to keep a close eye on my favorite chef’s social media accounts. Chefs tweet and insta just like you and me! They’re people, too! You can learn a lot about how your favorite chef feels about other restaurants and chefs from what they’re tweeting. So, if you can’t get a reservation at your favorite chef’s place, check out his feeds to find out where he eats on his night off. Chances are those are mighty good picks. For example, Grant Achatz, Head Chef at Alinea in Chicago, tweeted about Empellon in New York. You can bet your bottom dollar that Empellon is on my to do list for my next trip to the Big Apple. And I already know it’s going to be a dining experience to remember.
Read up on your favorites
These starred chefs are celebrities in their own right at this point. (Which I think is very deserved! We need to celebrate artists more!) They regularly get interviewed about their favorite meals in different cities. Just do a quick Google search of your top starred chef and the city where you are and you’ll get a wealth of high quality options that might not exactly be Michelin starred, but if a meal is good enough for a Michelin starred chef, then it’s good enough for me! I’m such an Eric Ripert fangirl. I do this with his name and whatever city I’m in. Thanks to an interview he did with Serious Eats, I discovered Burger Joint, which is a total New York City gem!
Create the experience
This option involves a little more elbow grease, but it’s totally worth it. You can get a cookbook from your favorite chef and recreate these ultimate starred meals at home. Granted, it takes some skill…and in some cases, some really fancy kitchen equipment, but it’s doable. If you want the taste with the service of a Michelin meal too, then hire a private chef to cook your favorites. It might take a little sweet-talking to get your private chef to follow a recipe from a book, but it’ll be worth it when you taste the meal! And if you’re looking for a cookbook, let me recommend The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. It’s an oldie but a goodie!
Hope that helps you fine diners out there find the perfect meal when you’re in a pinch. Cheers to great eating!