Designing Women S4 E22 Extra Sugar - Michelin Star Restaurants in the South
Updated: Jun 29
This week’s episode with a fancy dinner atop an Atlanta building (or sound stage in Southern California) was the perfect opportunity to dig into those elusive little stars restaurants all over the world seek: The Michelin Star.
See, a little birdie told us there are none, zero, zip here in the South, so we’ll dig into that claim. Who has them? Who doesn’t? And why does that matter?
So, uh, bon appétit, or in this case: bon podcast?
Reads (and a listen somewhere in there):
Come on y’all, let’s get into it!
Salina: Hey, Nikki.
Nikki: Hey, Salina.
Salina: And hello, everyone.
Salina: Welcome to this week's edition of Extra Sugar.
Salina: So early earlier this week, we broke down episode 22 of Designing Women.
Salina: This is where Charlene and Bill were treated to a romantic dinner atop the old Ritz Carlton where they fell in love.
Salina: Where Nikki noted that there weren't nearly.
Nikki: Enough flowers for a rooftop garden.
Salina: No, that's right.
Salina: You're right.
Salina: Julia and Mary joe Consummate host that they are.
Salina: They rounded out the evening with a menu perfectly crafted and catered by the couple's favorite restaurants.
Salina: And when I watched this one, Nikki, everyone, I tell you that it really had me thinking about something I recently learned I may or may have not shared this year before I can't remember.
Salina: I know I've told you separately, and that's the fact that there aren't any Michelin star restaurants in Atlanta or in the south for that matter, or so I was told by someone currently working in a Michelin star restaurant.
Salina: So I took them at their word as knowing what they were talking about.
Salina: So what's the reason for this unforgivable sin?
Salina: Well, they just don't come here.
Salina: Of course, this irks me when I think of the exquisite restaurants, not just in Atlanta, but in Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Asheville, and the list goes on and on and on.
Salina: How could this be?
Salina: I've thought about it several times.
Salina: I've Googled around briefly to find no clear and fast answer.
Salina: Nikki, you probably could have, but just be quiet over there.
Salina: Then lo.
Salina: I was given this episode.
Salina: I was given a gift, an excuse to dig into the topic in a more substantial way.
Salina: And so today, together, we have some missions.
Salina: We're going to talk about the history of the Michelin guide, those sought after stars, what exactly they tell patrons, why restaurants are clamoring to have them, how many are there, and other interesting numbers or tidbits that I found along the way.
Salina: And of course, we'll get into the bottom of this claim.
Salina: Are there really no Michelin stars restaurants here in the south?
Salina: You know, the spill, the spiel.
Salina: Nikki, stop me, slow me down.
Salina: Tell me.
Salina: You're not making any sense, Salina.
Salina: I need to know.
Salina: Ask questions.
Salina: Jump in anytime along the way.
Salina: If you're listening along and I've left something out.
Salina: If something's irking you that I've said reach out, we'd love to hear from you.
Salina: I mean, don't be mean, but reach out.
Nikki: Are we going to talk about tires at all?
Nikki: Michelin tires?
Salina: Ketoki say anything.
Salina: Jump in anytime.
Salina: Shut up, Nicky.
Nikki: Say that.
Salina: But yeah, we'll absolutely will.
Salina: I want to know all your thoughts on Michelin tires.
Salina: Thank you.
Salina: So we are off to say let's get into it, y'all.
Salina: If you hear the word Michelin, as Nikki has just alluded to and that makes you think more wheels than Mills.
Salina: Will you be right?
Salina: I just needed to get that line in.
Salina: But yeah, we'll talk about it.
Salina: So, Nikki, you already knew then that these highly desired stars then are doled out by the same French company who also I didn't know.
Nikki: That's why I'm asking.
Nikki: I wanted to know if there was a connection.
Salina: Oh, you did want to know.
Salina: Okay, so, yeah, they're doled out by the same French company who's been manufacturing and selling tires since 1889.
Salina: So here's the backstory on that.
Salina: Okay, so you got founders and brothers, Andre, and I'm looking at my fellow only person in the room who knows how to do French things.
Salina: I think it Eduard.
Salina: I'm pretty sure it's just the French version of Edward.
Salina: First developed the guide as a way to encourage more driving, more cars, and yep, you guessed it, more tires.
Salina: So in the guide, travelers could find everything from how to change a tire and find gas to where to dine and sleep smart.
Salina: The first stars were awarded in 1926.
Salina: 1st, only a single star.
Salina: Then they got that hierarchy thing, one, two, or three that exists today.
Salina: And that happened five years later.
Salina: The criteria were first published in 1936.
Salina: According to Michelin's website, the coveted Little Red Book rates over 30,000 establishments in 30 territories across three continents, and more than 30 million guides have been sold.
Salina: So there you go.
Salina: So what do those little stars mean anyway?
Salina: There are one, two, and three.
Salina: Again, one star means high quality cooking, and it's worth a stop if you get to two stars.
Salina: That's excellent.
Salina: Cooking worth the detour.
Salina: Three stars, exceptional cuisine, worth the journey.
Salina: So there you go.
Salina: I did not know any of this before.
Salina: I mean, I knew about the stars, and I knew, like, if you have more stars, it's better.
Salina: But I didn't know how they individually broke down.
Salina: The rating is based on the quality of food.
Salina: Restaurant inspectors who aren't known to the restaurants that they're entering, they don't look at the interior decor, the table setting, or the service quality when awarding the stars specifically.
Salina: And here are the five criteria quality of ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in the cuisine, harmony of flavors and consistency between visits.
Salina: You can be listed in the guide but not starred.
Salina: And you can also both gain and lose stars.
Salina: Personally, I think I'm interested in some of their other ratings.
Salina: It will be the things that I gravitate more towards.
Salina: So if you see a fork and a spoon symbol, it indicates comfort and quality.
Salina: And those range anywhere from one to five.
Salina: One is quite comfortable and five is luxury.
Salina: Have you heard of Bib Gourmand?
Salina: So I've seen this on maybe two menus in my travels.
Salina: But I wasn't sure I've made the connection between that rating and the old Michelin guide.
Salina: Okay, so this is definitely up my alley.
Salina: It's a rating that recognizes friendly establishments that serve good food at moderate prices.
Salina: And really that's all I'm looking for in the world.
Salina: You know what I'm saying?
Salina: This was added in 1955.
Salina: I don't think that name comes along until the 90s, but that's out there.
Salina: So if you see Bib gourmand on a menu like you're in a good spot.
Nikki: Can I ask you a question?
Nikki: It sounds like the ratings start with some presumption of quality or.
Salina: Goodness because.
Nikki: One is like it's good.
Nikki: What about the restaurants that aren't?
Nikki: Do they just not get Michelin?
Nikki: They're in the guide, but just unstart, I guess.
Nikki: So, like a Waffle House would be in the guide but unstart?
Salina: Well, no, I don't think Waffle House is going to make it in.
Salina: I disagree with that.
Salina: By the way.
Salina: It sounds like whatever you can get in the guide if there's like and I'm going off memory here, so if this isn't exactly right, I apologize.
Salina: I'm not a Michelin expert, but it's like this idea of like a lot of people are talking about it locally, so if there's a lot of buz that might get Michelin to go out there okay.
Salina: Might get them to go out there.
Nikki: That kind of thing.
Nikki: It's not a listing of all the restaurants in an area.
Nikki: Okay, that helps.
Salina: That is a good point, though.
Salina: If you're not at whatever the one is, which is like good quality, what does that say?
Salina: Michelin help us.
Salina: They did actually add a new rating, which is the Green Star in 2019.
Salina: This is for leaders in sustainable gastronomy.
Salina: Not surprising.
Salina: That's obviously a huge trend out there in all of the things because we want to breathe and live.
Salina: There are others still, which we'll link to in the show notes, but it's like a lot.
Salina: So I don't want to go through every single one of them, but there are many things that they rate, I think is the bottom line there.
Salina: It is worth briefly touching on the group that makes these decisions.
Salina: According to Travel and Leisure, the more than 100 restaurant inspectors, as they're known, work in almost 40 countries and travel three out of four weeks each month, visiting a new hotel every night, eating lunch and dinner while out on the road.
Salina: So Michelin covers their expenses, but not that of their companions.
Salina: These folks drive an average of 18,000 miles a year and they eat at 240 different restaurants on average.
Salina: Is this the job you'd be interested in?
Nikki: Depends on the salary.
Salina: I know I never saw a salary.
Salina: I think that is a very good point.
Nikki: Generally speaking, that's how I'm going to gauge whether I'm interested in a job first.
Salina: Well, I'm thinking like, I'm getting to taste food and provide judgments for a living.
Salina: So just like on the bare bones expectation alone, that sounds good, but it sounds like a lot of travel.
Salina: I just feel like I'd be tired all the time.
Nikki: Yeah, I think it depends on how that is a lot of travel.
Nikki: Where are you staying?
Nikki: Does it mean you're away from home most of the time?
Nikki: So maybe your living expenses are kind of low other than food.
Nikki: So would a lower salary be fine for a few years?
Nikki: I don't know.
Salina: And then I wouldn't think I didn't run across is like, okay, but what gives you the right?
Nikki: What are the qualifications?
Salina: Are these chefs that are driving around?
Nikki: I was wondering that.
Nikki: I can reach a point where I'm kind of tired of eating, especially eating out.
Nikki: I sometimes just like to go through a phase of just eating at home because the portions are so big.
Nikki: But also sometimes you just want to be at home in your comfies.
Nikki: And this sounds like you got to be a little bit fancy all the time.
Nikki: I don't know.
Nikki: That it's for me.
Salina: Although you may not be eating that much.
Salina: I feel like fancy places, a lot of times the portions are pretty small.
Nikki: That's a fair amount of self control.
Nikki: Also, then, I guess which is not my self control.
Salina: I think I would just be 1000 pounds, because when something's delicious, I just want more of it.
Nikki: I just want more.
Salina: I can't ever get enough.
Nikki: But I guess you have the that's, like, scarcity playing into it.
Nikki: And if you know you're coming back in two months, and so you can try it again, but they probably want you trying other things.
Salina: And you have to go if you're rating for stars, then you have to go back several times in a year, and more stars means you're coming back more times.
Nikki: I'm also kind of a moody eater.
Salina: There goes your stars.
Nikki: I have to be in a mood.
Nikki: So if I go to a restaurant that has food I'm not craving, and I have to force myself to eat it, and I have to force myself to rate it.
Salina: Well, I think that's a good point, though.
Salina: You don't know the emotional state of these people.
Nikki: That's what I'm saying.
Salina: It's very dangerous.
Salina: So let's talk about what the stars mean for the restaurant.
Salina: Talk about it.
Salina: Let's talk about it.
Salina: Why not?
Salina: We're here.
Salina: So when researching for this piece, there were only 3432 restaurants in the world with one, two, or three stars.
Salina: There are less than 500 with two stars, and there are only 140 restaurants in the world with three stars.
Salina: So this is out of like I went and Googled it, and I think in 2014, that was the most consistent statistic I could find.
Salina: There were, like, 15 million restaurants in the world.
Salina: Just to kind of give you an.
Nikki: Idea, the other thing I'm wondering is validation of the scores.
Nikki: So, like, 100 is a small number of restaurants for the entire you said 15 million restaurants.
Salina: 15 million restaurants in the whole world.
Nikki: And only 100 ish that are 40 with three stars.
Nikki: If you try to give a restaurant three stars, is your boss, your Michelin boss.
Nikki: Like, I'll be validating that right.
Salina: So what's the scientific method exactly, I wonder?
Salina: There's, like, a lot of questions.
Nikki: So many.
Salina: So, in case you're curious, at least as of 2022, the top five countries with the most Michelin stars.
Salina: Or do you want to take a guess?
Nikki: No, I do not.
Nikki: We'll be here all day.
Salina: Fair enough.
Salina: France from one, Japan.
Salina: You just named the first two.
Salina: I couldn't I couldn't possibly.
Salina: I couldn't possibly.
Salina: Although I can't trust that you don't have a little Google sheet up, and.
Nikki: I have nothing right now.
Salina: So one is France, or this is in 2022.
Salina: Two is Japan, three is Italy, four is Germany, and five is the United States.
Nikki: Four is Germany.
Nikki: That surprises me a little bit.
Nikki: I think I don't know enough about German cuisine.
Salina: I wanted to say more, but I'm not really I mean, I've like, eaten German food, but I don't, and I like German food.
Salina: It's very hearty.
Salina: So according to the Food Theory podcast, having even a single Michelin star puts you above 99% of the restaurants worldwide.
Salina: Again, like, with some half a** math.
Salina: That sounds right.
Nikki: That's a cool stat.
Salina: Yeah, that's me doing half a** math, not them.
Salina: I'm sure their math is great.
Salina: Along with your star or stars comes immense prestige, exposure, and increased business.
Salina: The team behind this food, their lives can change overnight.
Nikki: It's a lot of pressure to be the Raider.
Salina: I think there's a lot of pressure all around.
Salina: So Michelin didn't even come to the US.
Salina: Until 2005.
Salina: Now, remember we were starting back in 1889 or something like that.
Salina: Five, that's a long time.
Salina: Now I will tell you.
Salina: I searched and searched and searched.
Salina: If anyone knows why, I couldn't find.
Nikki: It because they're French hate America.
Nikki: One and two, their whole freedom fries, they're at least knocked it out for a few.
Nikki: But their bar for food and cuisine is, like, way up here, and I am sure there's a little bit of a like, what cuisine does America have?
Salina: Well, I think hot dogs.
Salina: So many questions.
Salina: Which is also not ours.
Salina: It's German.
Salina: I was going to say maybe I.
Nikki: Know more about German cuisine than I thought I did.
Salina: Like, maybe we could claim apple pie, but probably not.
Salina: Okay, so that's also German.
Salina: I don't know.
Salina: But this is almost 80 years after the first stars were ever awarded.
Salina: I did, however, learn that it started out solely focused on fine dining in New York City and has expanded to some pretty select markets since then.
Salina: So currently in the US.
Salina: There are 224 Michelin star restaurants.
Salina: 178 with one star, 33 with two stars, and 13 with three.
Salina: There are 371 bib gourmand restaurants.
Salina: The Guide currently reviews restaurants in New York, Chicago, California, washington, DC.
Salina: And three cities in Florida.
Salina: Meaning, technically, the person who spoke to us was incorrect.
Nikki: Three cities in Florida is so random.
Salina: There are oh, we'll get into it.
Salina: There are, at least geographically michelin star restaurants in the south.
Salina: Technically, geographically, because I think you could argue DC and Florida are two places in the south that we could highly debate whether or not they are Southern.
Salina: We debated about Florida right here in this very room.
Salina: Okay, so I kept digging through and learned some interesting tidbits about their inclusion.
Salina: Okay, basically, I was like, how can I tear this down?
Nikki: Someone likes to go on vacation.
Salina: Well, let's start with DC.
Salina: Now, they've been the longest reviewed since 2016, and this is according to a Washingtonian article, and that's not that long at all.
Salina: The culinary scene may have been the primary driver, but it's certainly not the only one.
Salina: Apparently, DC has, quote, always been an important city for Michelin north America, the ten point $76 billion a year corporation.
Salina: Here's what Michelin Guide International director Michael Ellis had to say we need to make sure the locale is a locale that's of interest to the Michelin group, because, as you know, our main activity is not publishing guidebooks, it's making and selling tires.
Salina: Federal regulators are based in DC.
Salina: So all the regulations that surround governance and technical specifications for tires, we have an important relationship with the federal government.
Salina: He added, the company also equips all the branches of the armed services, including tires for F 16 fighter aircraft and other military vehicles.
Salina: Sounds like a pure motivation to me.
Salina: Moving on, let's take a closer look at Florida, who got into the Michelin game just last year.
Salina: So it's very possible that this person we spoke with, like Florida had just come in and they didn't even really notice it yet.
Salina: I do believe they are the first place in the continental US.
Salina: To pay for their inclusion.
Salina: According to one article I read, four tourism agencies teamed up to pay Michelin a sum of Miami Herald, estimated at 1.5 million over three years.
Salina: It's apparently not without precedence.
Salina: Just to be clear, for the Guide to have, like, a monetary relationship with either a tourism board or a government entity, it's just not common here in the US.
Salina: An Eater article I ran across points out that this kind of financial relationship happens with these high profile restaurants and tourism boards.
Salina: More than us common folk realize it's not just Michelin either.
Salina: Here's a couple of other examples.
Salina: So, Tourism Australia paid $600,000 to the host or to host the 2017 ceremony for the world's 50 best restaurants in Melbourne and then here in the US.
Salina: Tourism boards in Louisiana and Chicago have used big money to lure Top Chef and the James Beard Awards to their cities.
Salina: When it came to Michelin and their stars, no matter how you slice it, large areas of the country are just painfully overlooked.
Salina: And where we're talking about the south specifically, and it is included.
Salina: It's just a little hard for me to get excited once you know the business and financial motivations that are in the mix.
Salina: You have questions before I move on, because your face looks like you have questions.
Nikki: Well, what I'm trying to figure out is maybe instead we should refocus our energy on trying to convince them why the south would be a great place to come with some of the things they mentioned.
Nikki: So, like the highways and byways of the south, there's a lot of driving happening between major cities.
Nikki: Charlotte to Atlanta.
Nikki: You pass many cities coming down going from Atlanta to Florida.
Nikki: That's a long stretch.
Salina: Do they know that we're at the four corners of the sex trade?
Nikki: We need tires.
Nikki: We need tires.
Nikki: This is where NASCAR started.
Salina: You with your business hat on.
Nikki: This is what I'm saying.
Nikki: Southerners don't really care for the French, but we can overcome that because we do like tires in our cars.
Salina: Did you just stereotype?
Nikki: I did, badly.
Nikki: But I think that's where Freedom Fries came from, unfortunately, was from the south.
Salina: Oh, was it really?
Nikki: I'm pretty sure, yeah.
Nikki: But then the other thing I was.
Salina: Going to say the freedom fry right.
Nikki: Now, the military angle.
Nikki: There's a lot of military happening down here, and there's a lot of small companies, especially in Atlanta, which I know of from familial relations, that outfit the military with certain things.
Nikki: So there's some stuff happening in Atlanta that could well help out, keep making.
Salina: A case in case somebody wants to slip this to the old Michelin folks.
Nikki: I don't really care that much, but it could be beneficial to everyone.
Salina: Well, let's talk about the criticisms of the guide, because there are some and there are also critics of the guide, and maybe we do want to hear.
Nikki: Maybe we do, maybe we don't.
Nikki: Yeah, hold on.
Salina: Yeah, hold the phone.
Salina: Hold the Michelin phone.
Salina: So it's a really Euro and specifically Franco centric, which is what I think we've been dancing around here a little bit.
Nikki: Did we dance around it, or did.
Salina: I just flat out I don't like the French?
Salina: No, she doesn't mean it at all.
Salina: She loves the French.
Salina: We love everybody here.
Salina: I would even describe it as, like, what might be considered by Michelin, like preferred cuisine.
Salina: Okay, so this is a pretty consistent criticism across what I saw and what I read.
Salina: But D magazine, this is out of Dallas, really cut to the heart of why this matters.
Salina: It creates racial disparity.
Salina: So they flagged that.
Salina: The current Michelin guide for California lists just two Mexican restaurants as starworthy.
Salina: This is out of 87, even though the Golden State is more than 40% Hispanic or Latino.
Salina: I mean, that is a disparity for sure.
Salina: Then similar for Florida, there are four sushi restaurants on the list, but only one each for Mexican and south American cultures.
Salina: It's also biased towards expensive or fancy restaurants.
Salina: So this might be a little bit of an older stat, but one of the things that I read said that out of the thousands of restaurants with stars, only four have $1 sign.
Nikki: Oh, I just assumed this was all relatively fine dining.
Nikki: I thought that was part and parcel to being Michelin starred.
Salina: They would tell you it's not interesting.
Salina: Only five three star restaurants have three dollar signs.
Salina: So I think the way yeah, it's brain breaking, isn't it?
Nikki: Yeah, that was a lot for me to process.
Salina: Basically, it is expensive.
Salina: Like, by and large, it doesn't mean that there aren't less expensive restaurants.
Salina: I think when they really roll out that argument, it's going to be going back to the garman stuff.
Nikki: I think what you're bringing up, though, is something that came up earlier in the segment, which is, though, to clarify, we don't know what the requirements are to be a rater or a reviewer.
Nikki: So we don't know that these are necessarily people.
Salina: That's right.
Salina: I don't know that.
Salina: I think that's maybe that's the part that there's a little mystery around, because I think some people don't even think they publish their criteria for the stars.
Salina: But they do.
Salina: But I think all this other piece is shrouded in some mystery, and maybe that's where they're able to do their thing.
Salina: So it's also limited by the guides geographic locations, which is, I think, precisely.
Salina: Precisely, precisely one of the things that we're experiencing here in the south.
Salina: You could argue that some of this is bandwidth.
Salina: Like, they expand as they can, but it's hard to not wonder if there is inherent bias in that at play.
Salina: So one article noted the double standards of the Michelin guide depending on the part of the world they're in.
Salina: So East Asian guides have famously awarded stars to casual noodle and dumpling shops.
Salina: But in the US.
Salina: To the point that you were making about what you thought these were, it has continued to favor, quote, old school luxury and daring culinary high wire acts.
Salina: It's a really hard phrase to say.
Salina: The Food Theory podcast mentioned a really fair point on the limitations of the guide, including these geographical one or ones like that's.
Salina: Okay, fine.
Salina: So you're geographically limited in some ways, except they're positioning themselves as a global indicator of what good food is.
Salina: Perhaps their scale is a little too small for their claim.
Salina: Yes, they do hold all the restaurants to the same criteria.
Salina: We've discussed those criteria, but that in itself could be problematic because it doesn't account for any diversity of place or culture.
Salina: And I think that does look different if you're in France or Vietnam or Minnesota or wherever you are.
Salina: Those were three really random places.
Nikki: Really random.
Salina: I tried I'm not trying to be, I don't know, a t*** in their punch bowl.
Salina: Obviously, Michelin stars are an indicator of exceptional food worth having.
Salina: And I'm not at all trying to say they're not, but I think it's important to know not everyone is on the bandwagon.
Salina: In fact, sometimes it's the restaurants and chefs themselves who aren't on board.
Salina: So I ran across a CNN article describing a growing frustration with the stars.
Salina: Any guesses why?
Nikki: They're not in the shelf?
Salina: Yeah, they're not in the south.
Salina: You take my stars back.
Salina: No, it's too much pressure.
Salina: And this isn't a new sentiment by any stretch.
Salina: Some chefs have even sued for being included.
Nikki: Yeah, I was going to ask, can they just choose not to be included?
Salina: Well, they've been run over and that hasn't worked out too well.
Salina: And then others have sued when they've lost their stars.
Salina: It just starts to sound like a little messy.
Salina: Or how about this?
Salina: Chefs, they're just like us.
Salina: They also crave some work life balance.
Salina: So chasing stars is just not really in that equation.
Salina: Just for some personal experience.
Salina: Personal experience on this.
Salina: I've been to a Michelin star restaurant.
Salina: That's how I talked to someone who worked in a Michelin star restaurant.
Salina: I'd love to say I went out and did some on the ground reporting, but I have for that.
Salina: This was just something that we did as a really special thing for our 10th anniversary this last year.
Salina: When we went to San Diego, it was a little bit of happenstance, to be honest.
Salina: We didn't necessarily seek that out, but when we booked our place through our Costco membership because we're fancy like that, it wound up being on the resort where we were staying.
Salina: And so we were like, this could be that thing that we do that we may be able to do this one time in our life.
Salina: That restaurant was the Addison, which, in fact, received its third Michelin star a few months after we were there.
Salina: That makes it one of 13 in the US.
Salina: And again, 140 in the entire world.
Salina: And so I wanted to shout them out specifically and congratulate them because one, even though we are talking about how not everything about Michelin is perfect, I mean, this is an astounding achievement.
Salina: Like, if I could say I was a Michelin star restaurant, I'd love to say that sounds great, maybe.
Nikki: Unless it's just one star.
Salina: Well, we just have to keep going through this, decide how we feel at the end.
Salina: But, I mean, like and part of it is I knew it was an achievement when we went that they had two stars, but I don't really think I knew how big of a deal it was until I looked at some of the rigamore that these restaurants have to go through to be included.
Salina: Also, if it wasn't for this meal, we wouldn't be doing the segment right now, because that's what flagged for me, that there is a Southern connection here to be explored, or a lack thereof.
Salina: Or a lack thereof.
Salina: I also want to share some highs from the experience before.
Salina: I share some things that hit me in kind of a funny way while I was there.
Salina: Okay, number one, the service.
Salina: Absolutely immaculate.
Salina: I've never seen anything like it.
Salina: I mean, the way they presented the plates and everything, it was like a choreographed dance or something.
Salina: They were simultaneously presenting each course.
Salina: They were all incredibly knowledgeable.
Salina: It definitely wasn't me waiting tables in college.
Salina: These were professionals.
Salina: Then there's the food.
Salina: Of course it is, bar none, the most beautiful plating I've ever seen, except for, like, on a TV show or something.
Salina: I mean, it's, like, similar because a lot of times that's the kind of level of restaurant that's being showcased on a TV show.
Salina: The executive chef, William Bradley, I mean, he's clearly a genius and an artist.
Salina: I mean, that's what it is.
Salina: It's art on a plate.
Salina: I genuinely had some of the most delicious bites of food I've ever had in my life.
Salina: But even the things that they're not for me, I'm never going to be like, I'm craving squab tonight.
Salina: I still knew, like, this is a perfect execution of this squab I'll never choose to have again.
Nikki: Well, nearly perfect, because at the time, it was two out of three stars.
Salina: That's right, two out of three.
Salina: The special touches.
Salina: Also now, in some restaurants do this.
Salina: They'll print a special menu for you.
Salina: But it was, like, printed for us.
Salina: I think it had our names on it.
Salina: It was for our anniversary.
Salina: They sent us home with some copies, so I can always know.
Nikki: So they weren't getting the green star?
Salina: They weren't getting the green star.
Salina: So they don't give a crap about the green star.
Salina: But I shouldn't say that.
Salina: I don't actually know.
Salina: But that for all I know, this was printed on driftwood that wrote it down, the Nile.
Salina: And you know how that goes.
Salina: But anyways, it was like a copy for us to take home.
Salina: So I can always remember those fancy things that I had no idea that I was having that night.
Salina: And they even gave us, like, a little special blend of granola for us to take and have for breakfast the next day.
Salina: I never could bring myself to eat it, so it's just like, currently creating mold downstairs in our pantry, but I just couldn't.
Salina: I was like, the thing I had to take home from it.
Salina: The reason I'm actually bringing up this experience is harkening back to something that we've already talked about with the chefs, which is the pressure.
Salina: I could feel it that night in a way I've not felt in a restaurant before.
Salina: I worked in a restaurant for almost a decade, so I know about restaurant stress, but this is obviously a different caliber.
Salina: It's a different level.
Salina: And as an empath, as good as they were, I could feel that stress radiating.
Salina: Off some of the staff, and then I was nervous.
Salina: And then I was already nervous because fancy things make me nervous.
Nikki: All sounds terrible to me.
Nikki: I would be so uncomfortable the whole time.
Salina: And I think my point with this, too, is I couldn't be in that energy every night.
Nikki: It would sound relaxing, especially working.
Nikki: I could just stay home if I want.
Nikki: Pressure at dinner time.
Salina: Well, that's true.
Nikki: I don't have my milk money.
Salina: Where's my three star milk?
Salina: Also, I'm thinking about anyone who eats in these places with any regularity.
Salina: I'm not sure how they do that.
Salina: I mean, that's not really what a multistored restaurant is for.
Salina: No one's going in there every night.
Salina: But you know what I'm saying?
Salina: So previously there wasn't really a reason in a California restaurant that was actually capturing California flavors to post any of this on social media.
Salina: But now that we've talked about it, I'd be happy to share some of that for people to see it.
Salina: I mean, it is food that was created to be seen.
Nikki: Did you pull out your phone and take pictures?
Salina: I took pictures every course.
Salina: Yeah, you can do that.
Salina: They want you to.
Salina: You could tell they want you to.
Nikki: But you didn't leave your phone on the table, did you?
Nikki: No, that would be bad.
Salina: Although I sure wish I had had your segment before I went into that situation.
Nikki: The menu probably wasn't on the table the whole time.
Salina: I was just doing probably all the wrong things.
Salina: One other thing that just for the whole point of this segment that I wanted to come back around to is like so I've done some other tastings before.
Salina: They're all in the south.
Salina: One here in Atlanta at Baconalia, one at an Italian restaurant in Nashville.
Salina: I'm embarrassed.
Salina: I don't remember the name, but it was really good.
Salina: And then also we did one at circa 1886 in Charleston.
Salina: They were all incredible, especially Charleston.
Salina: And I thought the food, I just want to say, was like, on a similar level to what we received at Addison.
Salina: It was just a different price point and frankly, much more comfortable for me.
Salina: And it just begs the question, where are stars?
Nikki: You don't want them.
Nikki: It would ruin the experience.
Salina: We're talking about quality of food, though.
Salina: They say that stars have nothing to do with everyone presenting all of your food at the same time and all of this hoity toity stuff.
Salina: And where are our stars here in the Deep South?
Salina: I think my takeaways are the exact same as Dallas's takeaways from the article I read about the lack of interest from Michelin, and they said, quote, our strengths just aren't interesting to them.
Salina: In their case, it was Texas.
Salina: I would broaden that sentiment to the south.
Salina: Can Southerners be fancy?
Salina: We can appreciate pomp and circumstance and tradition as much as the next fine diner we love good food here.
Salina: And let's be very clear, we have it.
Salina: In fact, I would argue that Southern food is some of the most delicious food that there is.
Salina: And chefs have proved here over and over again that the comfort food category we're known for can be elevated.
Salina: It can be reinvented.
Salina: It is and can be an experience.
Salina: But we don't just want comfort food.
Salina: We want to be comfortable.
Salina: While Michelin rates comfort, I'm not sure our ideas of what that means are quite the same.
Salina: And that's okay, because at the end of the day, just like they also said in Dallas, it's their loss.
Salina: You know how to find us on social media.
Salina: The website.
Salina: Email us, DM us, rate and review us.
Salina: And please, if you're enjoying what you hear, definitely rate and review us, because that will help people find us.
Salina: And if you don't, they won't.
Salina: It's pretty simple.
Salina: And that's this week's extra sugar.