Why Astrid Y Gastón Doesn't Have A Michelin Star

Set in a grand hacienda built in the 1700s, Astrid y Gastón is the pearl of Peru's dining scene. Led by culinary power couple Astrid Gutsche and Gastón Acurio, the restaurant has met nearly universal praise since its opening in 1994, according to Latin America's 50 Best, and when you're popping up on lists like that, you know you're doing something right. Gastón Acurio has been hailed as a global ambassador of Peruvian culture, and Astrid was named Latin America's Best Pastry Chef in 2015.

The restaurant, and the couple at its helm, have gained celebrity status in the culinary community, reaching an international audience through major media outlets such as the Washington Post, BBC, and Gastón's widely-viewed TED Talk. Yet, for all this global attention and acclaim, one award has eluded Astrid y Gastón — the glorified Michelin Star. It has nothing to do with Gutsche or Acurio, whose quality of work cannot be questioned but results from oversight by the Michelin Guide itself, a level of oversight that puts the merits of their three-star system in question.

Michelin has been criticized for not covering Latin America

The Michelin Guide is the brainchild of Andre and Edouard Michelin, the same pair of brothers that started the Michelin tire company in 1889. Launching this business was a great gamble because, at the time, there were fewer than 3,000 cars in all of France. To encourage car and tire sales, the Michelins published a travel guide containing maps and recommendations for room and board on road trips. The guide shifted its attention to fine dining establishments in the 1920s, but as its reputation began to soar, it retained a frustratingly narrow field of vision. Today, there is not a single Michelin Guide but a series of guides compiled on a country-by-country and even city-by-city basis.

According to Michelin, they publish guides for 37 countries and cities. Of those, 26 are located in Europe, and eight are in Asia, with only three locations covered in the remaining three quadrants of the globe. Dubai has a Michelin Guide, and in the Western Hemisphere, the United States and Brazil are afforded the honor. Beyond that, there is nothing. Africa, Oceania, and the vast majority of the Americas go overlooked, including Peru. Despite this oversight, Astrid y Gastón remains one of the world's most acclaimed and respected restaurants, proving that the thumbs up from Bibendum is thoroughly overrated.