Michelin Introduces ‘Green Star’ for Sustainable Dining in Thailand

Kitchen staff wear face shields at Canvas in July 2020.

BANGKOK — The Michelin Guide announced Thursday it will award a “Green Star” to restaurants distinguished for their environment-friendly practices.

The new award will encourage recycling, sourcing local ingredients, reducing food waste, and sustainable gastronomy in Thailand, .Gwendall Poullennec, the international director of the Michelin Guide, said at a press conference in Bangkok.

“This new symbol is a green star, just like the Michelin Star, but with an added stem so it’s a leaf,” Tippawan Nitijessadawong, Michelin Guide Thailand director, said. “We want to support restaurants that have a clear mission for the environment, and are making the industry sustainable.”

Tippawan said that multiple restaurants – even street food venues – may get the Green Star distinction this year, as long as they meet the Guide’s standards for the award.

Michelin Green Star.

Benjamin Lephilibert, director at the Bangkok-based LightBlue Environmental Consulting, said he hoped the Green Star will have a “vacuum effect” for chefs that currently don’t value sustainability to greenifiy their practices. 

“It’s essential if you want to be in the top tier of the business, then your values must also be aligned,” Lephilibert said. “Recognition goes beyond excellence, and to what’s happening behind closed doors.”

“It’s not about being fancy or fashionable, but it is a long-term trend to get the foodies to ask for more. The future needs to be sustainable as there is no other way,” Lephilibert added. 

Poullenec said Michelin inspectors are already back on the field in Thailand. 

This year’s awards, to be announced in November, will also include a Michelin Guide Young Chef award to award an up-and-coming chef under 36 of a starred restaurant, and a Michelin Guide Service Award to award a restaurant in the guidebook for outstanding service. 

While many Michelin-starred restaurants in Thailand rely on both expensive imported ingredients, Canvas is known for using only local ingredients, and Sorn and R-Haan were the first Thai restaurants by Thais, in Thailand to win two stars. 

When accepting the award in November, Chef Supaksorn Jongsiri of Sorn dedicated his win to the farmers of Thailand. “I cried tears of joy today. But this past year, the farmers in the south didn’t cry of joy, but they cried because they can’t sell the mangosteen they grew. That’s why my menu has Thai cuisine,” he said. 

The Michelin Green Star was first awarded in 2019 to restaurants in France. The Young Chef and Service awards have been awarded in the UK and Ireland since 2016.

Correction: Due to a reporting error, the previous version of this article misstated that LightBlue Environmental Consulting will work with Michelin evaluating restaurants for the Green Award. That is not the case. We apologize for the error.

Related stories:

Is There Life for Fine Dining Post-Covid? ‘Canvas’ May Have the Answer