Wednesday, 24 October 2012



The 2007 Pixar film Ratatuille is based loosely on the life of French Chef Bernard Loiseau. Loiseau, tragically shot himself in 2003 when a rumour in the French press suggested that he might lose one of his three coveted Michelin Stars.
So how could the opinion of a tyre company evoke such passion and tragedy? What is the connection between tyres and food? And how has that relationship endured?

The founding Fathers of Michelin Tyre Company, Edouard and Andre Michelin, were marketing experts long before the word marketing became an everyday word in business. Like Walt Disney, they had an innate sense of what their end users wanted from a product and how to tap into the lifestyle aspirations of their customers with their brand.
With the development of the motor car and the growth of motoring as a pastime, so arose the the need for maps and guides. In 1900 the first Guide Rouge was released. It included recommendations of Country Inns and restaurants where the motorist could find refreshments.

The 1900 Red Guide

In 1933 Edouard Michelin introduced the Michelin Star as a measure of quality and excellence. With time The 'Bib Gourmand' has been added to award Restaurants and Pubs offering 'good food at moderate prices. One, Two or Three stars are awarded for degrees of excellence.
The guide is now available for over one dozen countries including UK and Ireland.
The celebrity chefs which have become household names in recent years; Ramsey,  Pierre White, Blumenthal,  Bacuse ,Blanc all have the Michelin Star in common. In fact Frances Premier Chef, Paul Bacuse said in the 60's, 'Michelin is the only guide that counts'.
There is no doubt that Michelin still leads the way in this regard. The integrity of the guide is preserved through a strict code of behaviour in Michelin's Maps and Guides department. They go to extraordinary lenghts to preserve the anonymity of their inspectors. Inspectors are advised never to disclose their occupation(even to parents) and never to talk to journalists. And so the integrity of the guide endures.

Nearly 23 years ago John and Sally McKenna bought a cheap car and set off around Ireland and compiled the information to write the first Irish Food Guide. Two years later and the annual edition was sponsored and promoted by Bridgestone Ireland. The book received international acclaim and became the 'go to' book in terms of Irish quality food and artisan food producers. The guide reviews restaurants, shops and businesses of all kinds where food is sold or served. It is an excellent chronological guide of Ireland's emerging food culture in that it charts our development from emerging economy to boom and to where we are now. What it demonstrates is, that despite weak economic times, Ireland's quality food sector is booming and ever expanding. This year the Guide was released minus the Bridgestone sponsorship. We hope that this is a temporary arrangement as this has been a very successful partnership. The Irish Food Guide will continue and prosper regardless.

So do food guides sell tyres? Almost certainly not. What they do is reinforce branding. They help to familiarise the brand and the tyre at the point of purchase. It reinforces the confidence of the customer that in purchasing one of these brands, they are purchasing a familiar and quality recognised product.

Whilst we have no Michelin Starred restaurants in Kildare Town, we do have Mary Kathryn's Deli on Academy Street. A Ballymaloe trained chef, Mary Kathryn Murphy is a well deserved recipient of John and Sally's Bridgestone Plaque for excellence in fine food. If you don't believe us check it out when you're in Kildare. We'll drop you up whilst your car is being serviced.

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