There’s a New Michelin Award Restaurants Can Win—and It’s Not Earned by Culinary Excellence

First revealed in 2020, the Michelin Green Star is the latest addition to the brand’s prestigious one-, two-, and three-star designations.

SingleThread chefs plating a dish of duck and cabbage.

Chefs at SingleThread plating duck with red cabbage, baby corn, and jus, using ingredients from its farm.

Remy Martin

Food-loving travelers have long turned to the Michelin Guide for advice on where to eat, using its prestigious one-, two-, and three-star ratings—along with the Bib Gourmand award, which recognizes excellent food at a good value—to discover the world’s most outstanding restaurants. Now, Michelin wants to help travelers find food that’s not just great tasting but great for our planet, too, through the Michelin Green Star.

What is a Michelin Green Star?

First revealed in 2020, the Michelin Green Star recognizes restaurants that are leading the way in sustainable gastronomy. While no two Green Star restaurants are exactly alike in how they achieve this, all are committed to lessening their impact on the environment through initiatives like reducing reliance on single-use products, cooking with seasonal and local ingredients, and sourcing from farmers, foragers, ranchers, and producers who use environmentally friendly practices. This includes small, local partners, as well as global ones, like Michelin Green Star sponsor, Rémy Martin, whose sustainably produced spirits are found at several Green Star restaurants. Often, these restaurants are also involved in charitable projects or community initiatives. Restaurants do not need to have earned one, two, or three Michelin stars to qualify for a Green Star.

What a Michelin Green Star restaurant looks like

To see firsthand what it takes to earn a Michelin Green Star, I headed out to a farm in Northern California one crisp, sunny morning this past October. While the rest of the nearby Sonoma County hills were covered in vineyards, this plot of land stood apart. On one end, the last of autumn’s tomatoes ripened, while several rows over, tiny cabbage seedlings were just beginning to sprout—plants simultaneously fading and blooming as the season transitioned from warm to cool.

seedlings at SingleThread Farm

In the greenhouse, tiny cold-weather plant seedlings were beginning to sprout.

Jessie Beck

The farm, run by three-Michelin starred restaurant SingleThread, is where many of its dishes begin—sometimes with results that challenge a conventional understanding of what seasonal means. “We often think of tomatoes as a summer ingredient,” says Katina Connaughton, the farmer in the farmer/chef, husband/wife duo behind the restaurant, “but here we are in October and they’re still growing.” What’s in season, and therefore what chef Kyle Connaughton puts on his menu, changes according to what’s available from the farm, with small and subtle shifts every day.

On that particular day, the last of the season’s tomatoes would eventually make their way to our plates later that evening as a confit paired with sea bream and artichoke ragout, alongside a dish of cool-weather cabbage, duck, and baby corn. Like every night, each of the ingredients used for the 11-course meal were either grown on its farm, seven miles from the restaurant, or sourced from trusted partners who are equally committed to environmentally friendly practices.

However, the farm is more than a source of food for the restaurant. It’s also a place for the duo to teach the young chefs who work and train in their kitchen about sustainability and where and how food grows. Through this experience, Katina and Kyle hope to inspire more chefs to be thoughtful about how they source ingredients and move away from basing menus on the assumption of being able to get anything at any time.

It’s for these reasons that SingleThread was awarded the Michelin Green Star in 2020, alongside its three Michelin stars (which it maintained in 2022). In combination, these awards recognize both their commitment to culinary mastery and sustainability.

Others that have earned a Michelin Green Star

Of course, they’re not the only ones to have earned a Green Star since the 2020 reveal. As of 2022, the end of its second year, 426 restaurants have earned a Michelin Green Star rating—including several other Californian restaurants, such as the French Laundry, Atelier Crenn, Chez Panisse, and Harbor House Inn.

Outside of the United States, notable restaurants that have earned a Michelin Green Star include noma (Copenhagen, Denmark), Arpège (Paris, France), Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain), and Kashiwaya (Osaka, Japan).

At the moment, 58 Bib Gourmand restaurants also hold a Michelin Green Star, such as Kai (Galway, Ireland) and Ma Cuisine (Tokyo, Japan). Several eateries hold only a Green Star but no additional awards from Michelin, like Hærværk (Aarhus, Denmark) and Petersham Nurseries Café (London, U.K.).

On your next trip, if you want to make sure you’re eating well while also supporting eco-minded chefs, you can search for restaurants with a Michelin Green Star by going to its website and selecting “Michelin Green Star” in the “distinction” filter.

Jessie Beck is a San Francisco-based writer and senior manager of SEO and video at AFAR. She contributes to travel gear, outdoor adventure, and local getaway coverage.
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