The French Laundry

Michelin Guide Awards First Green Stars in North America

Seven California restaurants are recognized for environmental efforts in addition to the iconic red stars and other symbols.

Michelin Guide recognition is the ultimate honor in restaurants, akin to an Oscar or Tony Award in entertainment. The recognition is most well-known in the form of its stars, which are awarded for quality of ingredients, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, personality of the chef in the cuisine, value for cost and consistency between visits.

The guide recommends restaurants beyond the awarding of one to three stars, with Bib Gourmand and The Plate designations or other symbols that denote what a restaurant deserves: beer mugs for quality pubs in Ireland, wine and toothpicks for ideal tapas spots in Spain, a cart symbol for incredible street food in Asia. There are even symbols for interesting views, terrace dining and counter dining.

Another symbol debuted this year to recognize a new category: sustainability. The green clover was introduced to “promote the chefs who have taken responsibility by preserving resources and embracing biodiversity, reducing food waste and reducing the consumption of non-renewable energy,” Michelin wrote in an announcement.

In October, Michelin Guide California hosted a virtual Family Meal event to award the first North American chefs and restaurants to be recognized with the green clover: Chef Thomas Keller for The French Laundry, Chef Alice Waters for Chez Panisse, Chef Dominique Crenn for Atelier Crenn, Chef Michael Tusk for Quince, Chef Kyle Connaughton & Katina Connaughton for SingleThread, Chef Matt Kammerer for Harbor House Inn and Chef Nancy Silverton for Osteria Mozza.

Among the North American honorees' practices, The French Laundry and SingleThread both grow ingredients with farms on-site, Chez Panisse exclusively sources California ingredients within 50 miles, and Atelier Crenn composts food scraps for the nearby farm that grows most of its produce, eliminated meat from menus and uses napkins made from recycled materials.

See more sustainable practices at U.S. restaurants.

“Faced with constantly evolving challenges including production methods, sourcing and waste management, chefs are striving to improve their practices,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of MICHELIN Guides, in a statement. “Often, these initiatives combine the best of the knowledge of our predecessors with the creativity and innovation of chefs who are never short of ideas. The ambition of our approach is to amplify the scope of the good and ingenious practices of chefs by putting them in the spotlight. The ideas, methods and know-how developed by these chefs will thus help raise awareness of an entire sector to its customers and the general population.”

The clover was first awarded to 50 French restaurants with symbol-worthy environmental practices, including Mirazur in Menton, France, for its permaculture gardens, and Septime in Paris for its bio-waste recycling program, in January. In February, 30 Nordic restaurants in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden were granted the sustainability symbol.

See ICE alumni at Michelin-recommended and starred restaurants in California and New York.

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