The highest quality food in the world is by any objective measure French, and the ultimate arbiter of fine dining is Guide Michelin.
We used the guide’s global restaurant ranking for 2016 to statistically analyze which countries have the highest love of food and what drives gourmet dining. Belgium ranks first, Poland last, among the 25 countries.
We collected information on 18,000 restaurants covered by the Guide in 25 countries. The restaurants cover 3 Star, 2 Star, 1 Star, Bib Gourmand, and Michelin Plate ratings.
The number of restaurants per country was regressed against three independent variables:
- The size of the upper class. We tested various affluence metrics and found that the upper class population best explained where restaurants are located.
- The distance from Lyon. This variable is in recognition that Guide Michelin is distinctly French and countries far from Lyon (the center of French gourmet excellence) are at a disadvantage because a) the culture takes time to spread, and b) the Guide only slowly expands its coverage footprint.
- The distance from an East Asian center of gourmet excellence (which we put in Fukuoka to be somewhat equidistant from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China). This is in recognition of the distinct culinary excellence in East Asia outside French influence (we do not see any other such center in the rest of the world).
The graph below shows the performance of the 25 countries. Countries above the diagonal have a higher love of food. Those below the diagonal have a lesser love of food.
The vertical distance between the country dots and the diagonal is the “love of food index”. (Note that it is not love of Michelin restaurants because we have controlled for this with the distance from Lyon variable.)
Below is this love of food index. Belgium has, not surprisingly, the highest love of food. Surprisingly, Ireland ranks fourth. France, while being the epicenter of gourmet cuisine, ranks tenth. That Norway, the U.K. and Poland ranks at the bottom should come as no surprise. Greece’s low rank probably has to do with the country’s economic meltdown.
- South Korea
Finally, the Stata regression results. The upper (AB) class elasticity for Michelin rated restaurants is 1. So if the size of the upper class grows 10%, the number of Michelin-rated restaurants will grow 10%.
The model is almost perfectly homoskedastic and the independent variables are not collinear. The variables are log-transformed and a Box Cox test shows that this intuitive transformation is indeed the best one.