Why More Black Restaurateurs Should Be Aiming For Culinary Michelin Stars

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By Majella Mark

  • There are 29 Black-owned restaurant Michelin Star recipients in the U.S., out of approximately 200 restaurants
  • A restaurant awarded a Michelin Star can increase business traffic by up to 80%  

In the U.S. there are approximately 200 Michelin Star restaurants and only 29 of them are Black owned, including Luella’s Southern Kitchen and Kokomo. The Michelin Star is a prestigious award given to the most deserving restaurants around the world. This rating includes the quality of the food, decor and service. More Black restaurateurs should be aiming for this rating, as it can increase business traffic by up to 80%.

Why This Matters: In 2019 Mariya Russell became the first Black woman to receive the highest culinary honor, a Michelin Star, for the eateries Kumiko and Kikkō. The Michelin Star was created over 100 years ago, with restaurants able to receive one, two or three stars, and is still sponsored by Michelin Tires. As of 2021, there were 2,817 Michelin Stars awarded globally. Restaurants with Michelin Stars can have prices starting at $2 a dish from Chef Chan Hon Meng of Hawker Chan in Singapore, to $2,000 a head, by Chef Paco Roncero at Sublimotion in Ibiza.

Out of the 145,000 recognized chefs in the U.S., mostly men, approximately 10% are Black. Most chefs aiming for Michelin Stars are located in New York City and Chicago making an average of $45,000 if an employee, and not an owner or partner. A typical restaurant with one star will increase their activity up to 20% and up to 100% when receiving three stars. Having a Michelin Star also lends an opportunity to increase prices by 15% to 80%.

Situational Awareness: There are opportunities to own an award winning restaurant that can gain a significant ROI. Creating a hospitality company made up of eager investors and hungry restaurateurs can make you money while you sleep. An association like the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition can increase the presence of Black cuisine and dining experience through building community. Recognizing culinary talent early creates financial opportunity for you and a career opportunity for someone yearning for a chance.

The Culinary Institute of America has 3,012 undergraduate students as of 2021 and 220 are Black. Investing in programs like Youth With Faces and the Farm & Kitchen Foundation may not only help our community’s youth expand their professional options but create a pool of talent that can one day dominate the culinary world with Black food creativity.

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