Emma Dreams of Stars: Inside the Gourmet Guide review – a first hand look at the role of a Michelin Inspector.

Discover the true story of a former Michelin Guide inspector in Emma Dreams of Stars. At the age of thirty, having simply sent in her résumé, Emma sees her childhood dream come true: She is hired and joins the team of inspectors at the prestigious Michelin Guides. The only woman on the team at the time, she stands out among her colleagues for her youth and spontaneity. Blessed with an extraordinary sense of taste, Emma swiftly silences all snide remarks, and establishes herself as an unusual addition to this habitually discreet and highly demanding institution. But her new way of life that involves constant long-distance travel and nine generous meals a week soon takes its toll, causing her to question if this is truly the career path she wants to follow.

This comic (originally published in France) sees three extremely talented women from different creative backgrounds come together to tell a fascinating story. Emmanuelle Maisonneuve had a strong background in writing before her role as a Michelin inspector and had previously worked with Michelin star chefs Alain Ducasse and Michel Bras. She still advices chefs on post-Michelin strategies and produces olive oil. Julia Pavlowitch meanwhile has years of experience working in food journalism and writing – with a passion for exploring those with unusual life trajectories. This is rounded off by Kan Takahama, a respected manga artist who has won several awards including the Manga Grand Prix at the 24th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize for Nyx’s Lantern. This formidable trio bring a wealth of experience which takes Emma Dreams of Stars to another level.

Maisonneuve’s story strongly captures the idea that dreams don’t always match with reality, but at the same time manages to encourage readers to pursue their goals even if they seem daunting. A difficult result to achieve, but Pavlowitch and Maisonneuve create an engaging story and a main character you want to root for. It is also an invaluable look into the role of a Michelin inspector, and the pressures it creates on both the inspectors and aspiring Michelin star chefs. The opening chapter alone that focuses on Emma’s test run accompanied by a well-established (and rather terse) inspector is surprisingly tense and sets the tone of how demanding her job will be moving forward.

Takahama is equally strong on the art front. Her work is highly effective in showing the emotional rollercoaster Emma is taken on as she embarks on her dream job. Not to mention she is brilliant at illustrating mouth-watering food.

This is an inspiring comic that will encourage anyone reading to follow their dreams and a fascinating look into the competitive world of fine cuisine at the same time.

Emma Dreams of Stars: Inside the Gourmet Guide is out now from Vertical (9781647290573, p/b, £16.99)

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