Michelin vs AA vs Good Food Guide

Currently doing the rounds on social media is a rehash of a post called:

AA Rosettes❀ Vs. Michelin Stars*- The Big Difference

It was written in 2016 by a commis chef called Frank Davie. He had minimal experience then and doesn’t have much more now. Yet, this doesn’t seem to stop an apparent influencer using it as content, & promoting via social media.

After all, any experienced blogger will tell you – Content is king.

But let me outline why good content is better, & the flaws with that blog post, by quoting it & giving the actual reality:

  • “The catch is this also: rosettes and stars cost money. Not simply the fee to be featured in their precious guides”
    Reality – cost nothing for a restaurant to be in either guide
  • ” but it would appear that the AA and the Michelin guide don’t agree with each other.”
    Reality – because they are judging on different criteria, ie Michelin is food only, AA is the dining experience.
  • ” these two awards are what every head chef in the UK is sacrificing their sleepover.”
    Reality – again not true, each guide has between 2,000 & 3,500 establishments in them, in an industry which employs 1.7million ppl (or 6% of the nation’s workforce)
  • ” However, the difference between two rosettes and three rosettes is menacing to say the least.”
    Reality – Because historically 3 rosettes and above was the top 10% and promoted as such, to gain entry the 10% need to get bigger or somebody had to fall out of it.
The comparison

Let me say from the off, you can not compare Michelin stars against AA rosettes or Good Food Guide marks out of 10, or visa versa. Why? Because it’s like comparing apples, oranges & melons. Each guide has different criteria, a different way of assessing each establishment, different numbers of inspectors, different agendas and so it goes on.

So let’s compare the number of entries & their top awards:

Michelin 2017 guide

AA 2017 restaurant guide*

3 stars / 5 rosettes



2 stars / 4 rosettes



1 star / 3 rosettes



Total entries


Michelin only do an annual update to their guide.


AA continually update 1, 2 & 3 rosettes on a weekly basis.

So, as you can already see there are already some significant differences, both in terms of the number of entries in the guides & the top awards given.

Most chefs and commentators say that 3 rosettes is broadly equivalent to a Michelin star. And that comment isn’t far of the mark, yet there are some real anomalies.



Good Food Guide (Top 50)


4 Rosettes

7/10  (31st in UK)

Manchester House

4 Rosettes

The French

3 Rosettes

8/10  (17th in UK)

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

3 Stars

9/10  (6th in UK)


2 stars

3 Rosettes

The Sportsman

1 star

2 Rosettes

7/10  (42nd in UK)


1 Star

5 Rosettes

8/10  (10th in UK)

And let’s face it I could go on. But why the discrepancy?

Well the judging criteria are different. Michelin say quite openly that it’s about the food, and I’ll quote Robert Argles, a senior Michelin inspector for a number of years, who I had inspection from when I was a chef, he said:

You can serve the food on paper plates, in a converted bus shelter, with your waiter wearing jeans. And if the food is good enough, we’ll give it a star.

Where as the AA take other factors into account (although the food still takes priority). In the 2017 restaurant guide, they say about restaurants in the top 10% (3, 4 & 5 rosettes):

The cooking will be under pinned by:  The selection & sympathetic treatment of the highest quality ingredients. Timing, seasoning and the judgement of flavour combinations will be consistently excellent.

These virtues will tend to be supported by other elements such as intuitive service and a well chosen wine list.

Ultimately chefs shouldn’t get lost on accolades. Concentrate on the paying customer, the fallacy of ‘build it, & they will come’ is one of the biggest misnomers in the industry; along with think that because you have thousands of followers on social media that you are an influencer.

Quality food, at the right price point with great service is the way forward, because ultimately, you can’t pay staff or suppliers with trinkets.


All information included in this post, is correct at time of going to press.

2018 guide release dates:

  • Michelin: Live event & launch – 2nd October
  • AA: Awards dinner – 25th September
  • Good food guide – Already released.

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