The internet was abuzz when the first edition of the Michelin Guide Kuala Lumpur and Penang was launched recently, which saw 97 restaurants making the cut.

Out of that total, four earned a one Michelin star rating that stands for high quality cooking and worth a stop, 32 earned a Bib Gourmand award for a value for money gourmet experience, while 61 earned Michelin-selected status. You can find the full list of awardees here.

The Michelin Guide is often regarded as the reference to good food, but have you ever wondered how a tyre company came to be associated with gastronomic delights? Well, the idea that led to its creation is pretty innovative and was conceived towards the tail end of the 19th century.

On May 28, 1889, 133 years ago, Andre and Edouard Michelin founded their tyre company in the small French town of Clermont-Ferrand at a time when there were fewer than 3,000 cars in the country.

To encourage motorists to develop their trips and drive more, which would help boost tyre sales, the Michelin brothers produced a small red guide filled with handy information for travellers. The guide included maps, a guide on how to change a tyre and where to find a petrol station, all of which were provided at no charge.

This went on for two decades until a fateful encounter when Andre Michelin arrived at a tyre shop to see one of his guides being used to prop up a workbench. Based on the principle that “man only truly respects what he pays for,” the brothers launched the new Michelin Guide in 1920 and sold each copy for seven francs.

It was in the 1920s that the guide abandoned paid-for advertisements and more importantly, started including lists of hotels in Paris and restaurants according to specific categories. The guide’s restaurant section in particular attracted a lot of attention, so much so the Michelin brothers recruited a team of mystery diners – or restaurant inspectors, as we better know them today – to visit and review restaurants anonymously.

In 1926, the guide began awarding stars to fine dining restaurants, initially marking them only with a single star. Half a decade later, a system from zero to three stars was introduced, and in 1936, the criteria for the starred rankings were published, with three stars being the most coveted. In the many, many years since its introduction, the Michelin Guide now rates over 40,000 establishments in over 28 territories across three continents, with more than 30 million copies sold worldwide.