Andre Michellin: From smooth rides to savouring flavours.

The world of automobile is moving forward with many inventions and advancements, but one of the most important things that supported your vehicle through thick and thin were the tires or tyres as the British call it. The word “tire” is of French origin which comes from the word tirer, to pull, which refers to the iron hoops or thick wires bound to the carriage wheels. In French blacksmithing the word for a drawn iron rod is tirer. Another etymology is provided by the online etymology dictionary which said that “tire” was short form of the word “attire”, like a wheel’s attire.

In 1889, a cyclist turned up at a rubber factory when the pneumatic tyres of his cycle needed repair. The tire was glued to the rim, and it took an overnight to fix the tire, but that only resulted in despair after the tyre failed a test run. Albeit the setback, Edouard Michelin was enthusiastic about pneumatic tyre and then he and his brother Andre Michelin worked on creating their own version, one that needn’t be glued to the rim. Michelin was incorporated on 28 May 1889, and in 1891 they received the patent for the first removable pneumatic tyre which was used by Charles Terront, whowon the world’s first long distance cycle race.

André Jules Michelin was born on January 16, 1853. He was a French Industrialist, who along with this brother founded the Michelin Tyre Company in 1888, in the French city of Clermont-Ferrand. At the age of 33, Andre left his work as a normal Parisian Engineer, to take in charge of the company established by his grandfather. “Michelin et Cie” established in 1832, was on the verge of facing insolvency when Andre took in charge, he immediately recruited his younger brother into the company as the managing director , the company which mainly sold solid farm equipments and products derived from vulcanized rubber such as belts, valves and pipes.

The Michelin brothers were inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan, 2002, but that’s not all, do you know what the most prestigious accolade for a restaurant is? It’s the Michelin Star. Yes, the same “Michelin” that manufactures tyres for automobiles, space shuttles and railways. Baffled? There’s an interesting story behind this too.

In 1900, the brothers published the first edition of the Michelin Guide for French Motorists.There were fewer than 3000 cars in France and the Michelin Guide was expected to boost the demand for cars, it contained information about motorists, information about changing and repairing tyres, maps, car mechanics, petrol stations and hotels. The first 35000 copies that were published were given away for free, but soon as the popularity grew, after the end of the First World War, they began charging for the published magazines, based on the principle that “A man truly respects what he pays for.”

Recognizing the growing popularity of the restaurants sections, the Michelin brothers recruited a team of inspectors, who would visit and review these restaurants and always maintain anonymity. The Michelin Red Guide awards or strips restaurants of the stars, based on their inspections carried out anonymously. Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsey cried when his New York restaurant was stripped of the Michelin Stars, calling the food “erratic”. Ramsay said that losing the stars was like “losing a girlfriend.”

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