Last summer, Michael Ellis, the international director of the Michelin Guides, and four other panelists sat on a stage in a swanky Singapore hotel and discussed what it takes for a restaurant to earn a Michelin star. The group said that the Guide’s anonymous inspectors have always relied on five criteria when they scoped out a restaurant, including the chef’s commitment to quality ingredients, whether the meal is a good value or a “memorable experience,” and the consistency of the food coming out of the kitchen.
If that’s what it takes, then maybe Sam Edelman has a point: His Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant should get its own Michelin star. The 37-year-old owns the KFC in Alice Springs, in Australia’s Northern Territory, and it may be the most remote place you’ll ever order a bucket of Wicked Wings. “We’re about 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) from the next nearest KFC, and that’s why when I read about the criteria, I thought, ‘Hey, yeah we are unique,’” Edelman told news.com.au.
Edelman is actively campaigning for a Michelin star—he’s started a Facebook group called “Kentucky Fried Chicken Deserves a Michelin Star”—despite the fact that Michelin neither publishes its Guide in Australia, nor does it review any restaurants on that continent. “Technically we meet the criteria... so let's just see how we go!” he wrote in the group’s description.
He was prompted to essentially start waving his arms and shouting “HEY MICHELIN! OVER HERE!” after watching an episode of Street Food on Netflix and learning about Raan Jay Fai, the food cart in Bangkok that swooped its own star. “Traditionally I’d always thought that the Michelin star was the peak of fine dining, you have to have a fancy wine list and spectacular dining experience,” Edelman told Metro. “There was a cutaway shot that showed a KFC advertisement in there and it kinda gave me the idea. On a basic level, we meet the criteria. If this street vendor can get the Michelin star why can’t we?” (VICE has reached out to Michelin for comment.)
According to Michelin, a one-star restaurant is “very good,” two stars mean that it has “excellent cooking” and is “worth a detour,” while three stars are given to the places with “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey.” Again, maybe Edelman has a point: He said that he’s served customers who have traveled a thousand-plus kilometers just for KFC’s “bloody good” chicken. (He’s trying for two stars, because he thinks Alice Springs is definitely detour-worthy. Big mood, chicken man.)
“I’ve had customers who have come from 1,300 kilometers (808 miles) away. We have done a catering order for a gold mine that was in Western Australia—we’re in the Northern Territory,” he said. “It was a $1,000 ($696 USD) order. They ordered a private hire car to collect the order and take it straight to the airport. They chucked it on the plane and flew it to the gold mine. The closest town is 600 kilometers (373 miles) from us, and they will buy around six buckets and buy for the neighborhood. It’s good food, accessible to everyone.” You mean… a MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE and VALUE FOR THE MONEY? Are you even reading this, Michelin?!
Maybe Michelin has an extra star that it can give to Edelman. I mean, Sebastien Bras, the chef at Le Suquet in Laguiole, France, has tried to return his own stars—but Michelin put him in its most recent Guide anyway. Why not just send his stars to an Alice Springs KFC instead?