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Here’s Everything to Know About the Michelin Guide’s Return to Los Angeles Tonight

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How do the stars work? Who will win? Does it matter?

Modern plating at Vespertine.
Food from Vespertine
Anne Fishbein

Tonight is the night. For the first time in nearly a decade, Los Angeles will once again have a slate of brand new Michelin-starred restaurants to discuss, obsess, and fawn over, as the famed Michelin Guide drops its new all-California book on the dining public. The stars will be meted out at a Huntington Beach reveal party beginning at 5:30 p.m., and put on by the Visit California tourism bureau. Here’s everything you need to know about Michelin, its return to Southern California, and how to watch the big event live.

What is the Michelin Guide?

The Michelin Guide (yes, from the tire company) began life as a road trip booklet of sorts, with an eye towards offering French day trippers information on worthwhile restaurants scattered across the countryside. The company now operates in cities all over the world, and its star and bib gourmand (more on that in a moment) system is seen as a status symbol accolade for many of the world’s most illustrious restaurants. Starred restaurants are ranked one through three.

How is Los Angeles involved?

Los Angeles last had its own Michelin guide back in 2010, before the company pulled out amidst the financial crisis, leaving San Francisco as the only continuously-reviewed Michelin city in the state. The return was predicated on getting a big check from the Visit California tourism bureau (north of $600,000) and making one all-state guide, spanning tip to tip in California and covering not only SF and LA but San Diego, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, and all points between.

Somni Los Angeles
Somni
Wonho Frank Lee

Who is getting what?

Last week, the Michelin team dropped its Bib Gourmand list for all of California. The bibs are a non-starred accolade meant to highlight more reasonably-priced exceptional meals within a restaurant’s given category, but it also doubles as a preview of what restaurant will not be getting stars. Majordomo, Sqirl, and many others won’t be getting a star tonight.

As for who will earn stars, it’s hard to say. The company is notoriously tight-lipped, though Eater has been publishing its own hypothetical list of winners for several years now. It’s also worth noting that Michelin has been asking around on social media for some photos to use, which could be a giveaway of sorts.

What does everyone think of Michelin?

Opinions are mixed. Some feel that Michelin’s tendency to lean towards expensive, largely European, largely white dining experiences does not accurately reflect the greatness of Southern California’s food scene. Others feel that it could be helpful for the city, or that maybe the city should still have its own (non-all-California) guide after all, given the extensive food scene here.

As for chefs, some think it will “lift and inspire the city’s already vibrant restaurant culture.” Others find Michelin’s previous derogatory statements about LA’s restaurant scene to be, ahem, a bit insulting.

A white paper plate holds two tacos, with beans.
Guerrilla Tacos earned a bib gourmand
Matthew Kang

What questions does everyone have?

Lots. For example: How will Michelin deal with LA’s vibrant, often inexpensive street food scene? Will Michelin award stars to a dim sum or Sichuan restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley? Will there be a single three-star restaurant in Los Angeles? How will the winners use their newfound stars to market themselves in a city so known for its casual dining scene?

How can I watch?

The live awards ceremony event begins at 5:30 p.m., with announcements of returning stars for San Francisco restaurants coming first, followed by one, two, and three star winners.

The ceremony is going to be live streamed on Michelin’s Facebook page, and there will likely be winner updates on Twitter as well. Following the full show, the complete list of winners will be available on Eater LA.

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