The Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on the hospitality industry and recovering from it requires re-examining all business aspects and making changes to meet new normal expectations.
The gastronomy sector was hit hard and most restaurants could no longer offer on-site catering. This challenge reinvented post-pandemic fine dining trends to respond to these changes and disruptions.
The good news is that it creates new opportunities for forward-thinking hotel owners and restaurateurs to start from scratch to implement innovative concepts and the latest restaurant trends that can attract more people and create destinations of restoration sought. If restaurants seriously consider the whole dining experience beyond just serving a meal, there are even opportunities to earn coveted awards such as Wine Spectator or a place in the Michelin Guide.
The Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Awards recognize restaurants whose wine lists offer compelling selections, are appropriate to their cuisine, and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers. To qualify for an award, a restaurant’s wine list must present complete and accurate information, including vintages and appellations for all selections. Full names of producers and correct spelling are required, and the general presentation of the list is also taken into account. Listings that meet these requirements are judged for one of three awards; Excellence Award, Best Excellence Award and Grand Prize.
A Michelin star is part of the esteemed restaurant rating system used by the Michelin Guide worldwide. The restaurants listed on the Michelin guide can be either: Assiette Michelin, Bib Gourmand, 1 Michelin Star, 2 Michelin Stars, and of course estimated 3 Michelin Stars. Technically, to be a Michelin starred restaurant they have to have at least one star. The Michelin Assiette and the Bib Gourmand reward brilliant restaurants that fall just short of the coveted Michelin stars. As expected, the more Michelin stars a restaurant has, the higher it is rated by culinary experts.
In the 2022 edition of the Michelin Guide Thailand, there are 361 dining establishments; 6 restaurants with 2 Michelin stars (all retaining their status from the previous year), 26 restaurants with 1 Michelin star, 133 Bib Gourmand, and 196 other selected entrees.
In addition to catering establishments awarded with Michelin stars, the Bib Gourmand and the Michelin green star; the official selection of the 2022 edition of the Michelin Guide Thailand also recognizes 196 additional restaurants that offer good meals, skillfully prepared with fresh ingredients and good cuisine. Of these, 91 are located in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, 16 in Ayutthaya, 37 in Chiang Mai, and 52 in Phuket and Phang-Nga.
It should be noted that 51 are new entrants, 15 in Bangkok, 16 in Ayutthaya, 5 in Chiang Mai and 15 in Phuket and Phang-Nga. This year’s Michelin Guide celebrates Ayutthaya as the last city introduced in the Guide.
It is disappointing to see that none of the restaurants in Pattaya made the coveted list. With an innovative and ambitious approach, many good restaurants in Pattaya could qualify to win international awards and accolades such as Michelin stars and Wine Spectator awards. They need to look not just within their comfort zone, but also out and beyond where all innovation happens. They must come up with menus, wine lists and concepts that will secure them a place in the awards of the most famous restaurants in the world. Many fine dining restaurants are stuck in the past; they don’t move forward as they should and don’t think as creatively as they should. It’s not about serving long menus with old favorites like Caesar salad, lobster bisque and ribeye, but about offering tantalizing new menu items, wine lists and restaurant concepts. innovative catering solutions that make dining experiences memorable for guests.
The days of long, multi-page menus are over. A short menu can reduce food costs through easier inventory management, as well as reduced food waste. Reducing the menu also gives chefs the ability to be more creative with menu items, improving food quality.
New restaurant trends show that accessing menus through personal devices is a quick and easy way for customers to view current offerings, place orders and make changes. Other technologies such as QR codes, table kiosks and menu apps are also replacing traditional menus to streamline the experience. The use of technology not only improves customer service, but also reduces employee stress.
The ability to showcase the chef’s personality in the kitchen is an important criterion for obtaining a Michelin star. The originality, and more particularly the character of the chef must be put on the plate, showing uniqueness and individuality, which makes it possible to distinguish the restaurant from other large tables.
Restaurants can consider offering innovative dining experiences such as the “chef’s table”. The experience is not about culinary theater but about showing professional food preparation skills where guests are treated to unique signature dishes while learning cooking techniques. It doesn’t have to be a Michelin starred chef, but having a team of talented chefs to rotate not only creates interest, but also gives customers a reason to come back. regularly when different chefs are presented. Diners not only eat a delicious meal, but also learn unique cooking tips from chefs while building a stronger bond between diners and chefs.
Fine dining restaurants may offer chef creations such as fusion dishes created by their own chefs. It’s a good way to tackle supply chain issues and also gives chefs the opportunity to come up with unique dishes with their own style. There is no limit to these dishes, and can include Thai fusion and an Asian twist using local produce. Even seemingly simple ingredients can be enhanced with the right flavors and cooking techniques. The combination of flavors, whether sweet and sour, bitter or spicy, salty or umami, can combine in various combinations to give the dinner an unforgettable experience.
The products don’t have to be premium or exotic, but they absolutely must be fresh. In fact, restaurants that use simple ingredients may even earn their stars. The presence of ingredients such as truffles and foie gras will not guarantee restaurants a Michelin star.
Menus should be simple but with an interesting twist, such as authentic Thai dishes inspired by street food and made from ancient recipes. Local produce and ingredients need to be incorporated into the menu as diners are increasingly concerned about food sources and healthy lifestyles. This not only ensures optimal freshness that elevates the kitchen, but also encourages sustainability in the agriculture and restaurant industry that helps boost the local economy.
It is also important to offer diners the best dining experience as well as value for money. Beyond the taste of the food, the service as well as the atmosphere must be correct. By providing diners with a total dining experience, the money paid will definitely be worth it.
How well does a restaurant manage to maintain high standards? Good food is the result of a lot of effort and it’s not a one-time thing, especially if a restaurant is looking to earn a Michelin star. Attention to detail, consistency, a high level of service and a tick in all the right boxes are key to winning a coveted Wine Spectator award or a place in the famed Michelin Guide.
Ranjith Chandrasiri is a seasoned hotelier, food and wine connoisseur, multilingual with a wealth of knowledge and international experience in hotel management at luxury hotels and iconic brands including InterContinental Hotels Group in Europe, Australia, Cambodia , Thailand and Sri Lanka. He is Chairman of Sirius Hospitality Consulting in Thailand, former Group Managing Director of Jetwing Hotels Group, Sri Lanka and Royal Cliff Hotels Group, Thailand, Founder/Chairman of Royal Cliff Wine Club and deVine Wine Club, Bailli Honoraire (Honorary Chairman) of Chaine des Rotisseurs, Pattaya, Thailand.