Michelin inspections are coming to Florida restaurants

Michelin — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Alexandros Michailidis

TAMPA, Fla. — The ever-expanding menu offered at Rooster & the Till in Seminole Heights is an expression of Ferrell Alvarez’s culinary expertise, and the unique plates dished out on Wednesday through Saturday are meant to attract all customers—whether they arrive in a full suit or jeans.

“I want people to feel alive. I want people to feel inspired. I want people to feel welcomed,” said Alvarez, who co-founded the restaurant with a friend almost eight years ago. “I think it’s very food-driven.”

The restaurant’s offerings are creations of Alvarez’s passionate team, a team that could soon be placed under a new spotlight.

Several weeks ago, Michelin Guide announced that it is coming to Florida to rate restaurants in Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, after forming a partnership with Visit Florida and the respective tourism bureaus in all three cities. The Florida expansion will represent just the fifth region Michelin Guide serves across the country, after New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and California.

Michelin, which is known as a tire manufacturer, has also published a guide that rates fantastic restaurants for almost a century. To be rated with a Michelin Star is a great honor that can solidify a restaurant’s reputation and attract new customers.

“Michelin Guide, I think, is one of the top two pinnacles of being rated as a restaurant,” said Alvarez. “It’s extremely valuable to a company to be recognized by Michelin. You know they only represent a few cities and or states in America. So, the introduction of that into Florida should be taken pretty seriously.”

“It’s a huge deal,” adds Jessica Stollenmaier, the blogger behind the popular Instagram page, Tampa Food Girl.

Stollenmaier believes that Tampa’s food scene will be transformed through the power of Michelin.

“I was actually traveling for food experiences. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be alone, but the growth of my account and so many other food accounts I think are proof that people are willing to travel for food experiences,” she said.

Visit Tampa Bay agrees, and a spokesperson says that the new partnership with Michelin should be a big tourism boost, since, according to the tourism bureau, “extensive research shows that visitors spend the most in the food and beverage sector during their trip to Tampa Bay, as much as 30% of total spending.”

“Given Michelin’s influence to inspire travelers to seek out dining experiences that are worth a journey, we feel this partnership is ideal as Florida continues to emerge as a leading culinary destination,” wrote Stephanie Rodriguez with Visit Tampa Bay.

However, some critics have doubted the Michelin Guide’s service, questioning whether it is worth the money tourist groups such as Visit Tampa Bay are paying to bring the partnership there. The full cost has not been revealed to the public.

Meanwhile, Alvarez can’t say.

He believes that Michelin’s value will depend on how long it remains in the Florida market and how committed it is to Florida’s food scene.

Despite those questions and concerns, Alvarez can say what a Michelin Star would mean to a Tampa restaurant.

“Being recognized by Michelin changes the revenue stream instantly,” he said. “I definitely — I would love for us to be recognized by Michelin, you know. I think that the opportunity to change the company and to say that it was recognized by Michelin is a fantastic thing. Although I will not put my people through the rigorous mental torment that some people do because they solely want to focus on obtaining these awards.”

According to Visit Tampa Bay, ratings will be released in 2022 as the inspection process is currently in progress. An official timeline will be released at a later date.

Make sure you are staying up-to-date with the latest and most important Florida news with Florida Insider. Whether you are interested in business, education, government, history, sports, real estate, nature, weather, or travel: we have something for everyone. Follow along for the best stories in the Sunshine State.