White interior of Sur Mesure Par Thierry Marx

The MO chefs’ guide to Michelin stars

When the Michelin brothers created their restaurant guide in 1900, there was no way they could have known that their name would come to be associated with the fanciest of fine dining well over a century later. At the time of writing, Mandarin Oriental has 17 Michelin-starred restaurants, including more two-starred restaurants than any other hotel group. We asked some of the Group’s chefs about their experience of vying for – and winning – the much-coveted star

Plate of food at Sur Mesure

Thierry Marx, Paris

“The idea for Sur Mesure Par Thierry Marx was a calm, white space where there is no notion of time. Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku, who conceived the space, took inspiration from haute couture. We worked together for a year before the opening, including creating unique tableware: cutlery, plates, glasses and napkins were designed and customised for this restaurant. Getting Michelin stars has always been a dream for me and even though I already had won several in the past, getting two at Mandarin Oriental, Paris was very special to me as it was a priority for me when I joined the group. I keep challenging my teams so that we can reach perfection for each service, every day.”
Thierry Marx is Executive Chef and Director of Food & Beverage at Mandarin Oriental, Paris

Dish at L'aria

Vincenzo Guarino, Lake Como 

“I gained four Michelin stars over 12 years – in 2009, 2013, 2016 and finally the fourth here at L ̃ARIA in Lake Como in 2019. It’s the first time in Italy that a chef has been given four different stars in four restaurants. I received a call from Michelin with the news, ten days before the 2019 Michelin Guide came out. I was in the middle of working, but left to find a quiet space, and talked with the director of the guide for 20 minutes. Afterwards I felt very emotional and started crying, because it was such a big achievement. We’d only been open for seven months. A star changes a chef’s life. It shifts your visibility – you are under a spotlight, and of course that helps your career. The inspectors are always mystery guests and it’s very difficult to understand what their criteria are; but they are focused on the taste of the dishes and the vision and philosophy of the chef.”
Vincenzo Guarino is the Executive Chef of L ̃ARIA at Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como

Interior of Yong Yi Ting

Tony Lu, Shanghai  

“To me, the restaurant environment and the menu are not two separate things; the design will influence the diner’s appetite. Our designer had already decided the interiors when I started to think about cuisine for a diner walking into Yong Yi Ting – what appetite are they arriving with? The first Michelin guide to Shanghai was released in 2016, and we were invited to the press conference, without knowing the results. It was very exciting. Michelin only allows one or two people to attend, but the whole team gathered at the restaurant to watch online. They were all waiting to welcome me back and open the Champagne. There is no one who can tell you how to win a Michelin star. Every year we have to work very hard to get everything right, but without knowing any of the rules. After four years, it’s still a mystery.”
Tony Lu is Chef Consultant at Yong Yi Ting Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai

Chef at work at Tapas Molecular Bar

Ngan Ping Chow, Tokyo

“Earning my own star became my goal while I was a sous chef in a Michelin-starred kitchen team at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. When I became head chef of Tapas Molecular Bar we received a Michelin star unexpectedly quickly, in 2014, which was a surprise. We have held our star for six consecutive years. I’d say teamwork, never giving up, and a unique culinary offering are probably the minimum requirements for winning a Michelin star. At Tapas Molecular Bar we created a counter-seat restaurant to maximise the guest experience, which means that diners can see us cooking. The environment is cosy and relaxed, yet still a high quality, fine-dining restaurant. We always like to tell our guests that they are having the most casual fine dining, and the finest casual dining.
Ngan Ping Chow is Chef de Cuisine at Tapas Molecular Bar, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo

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