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What do Michelin-Star Meals and Large-Scale Construction Projects Have in Common?

What do Michelin-Star Meals and Large-Scale Construction Projects Have in Common?

Wait, Michelin Ratings and Construction? More like food trucks and construction?

Nope, actually, designing and managing the construction of a large-scale facility is much like preparing a three-star Michelin meal. Go figure. Consider the steps it takes to prepare a meal for multiple people. The planning, the execution and the plating…the wine… A building is delivered (or plated) in a similar manner… (but with vodka…in a flask).

Both a large-scale building project lifecycle and a three-star Michelin meal preparation requires meticulous attention to detail, multiple experts and a great team with the same vision.

While the meal has high-quality ingredients, advanced cooking techniques, and artistic presentation, the development of a facility also has high-quality materials and equipment, advanced means and methods, constructed by highly trained trades workers. The goal of this article is to provide a weird but useful comparison of two complex processes in attempt to demonstrate what is involved in the both professions.

Gastronomy is the practice or art of choosing, cooking and eating good food.

The building lifecycle is choosing a program, building and turning it over to the user.

Here's a step-by-step outline comparing the preparation of a three-star Michelin meal with a large to jumbo-scale commercial building project lifecycle processes:


1. Menu Planning:

· Decide on the theme or concept for your meal. Like Soupapalooza, Taco Today, Surf and Turf, Farm to Table, one ingredient per course…

· Select dishes that showcase creativity, balance, and a harmonious combination of


· Consider seasonal and high-quality ingredients.

2. Recipe Research:

· Study renowned chefs' recipes and cookbooks for inspiration.

· Analyze techniques, ingredient combinations, and plating ideas.

3. Ingredient Selection:

· Choose the freshest and finest ingredients available. But of Course.

· Opt for local and seasonal produce whenever possible.

· Pay attention to the quality of meat, fish, and other protein sources.

4. Preparation:

· Organize your kitchen and gather the necessary equipment and utensils.

· Follow the recipes meticulously, paying attention to details such as cooking times and temperatures. There is no five second rule here.

· Smoooth. Prepare elements of your dishes in advance to ensure smooth execution.

5. Techniques

· Precision temperature control. Not too hot, not too cold

· Utilize various methods such as grilling, roasting, poaching, sautéing, and blanching to achieve desired textures and flavors.

· Experiment with flavor extraction techniques such as reduction, infusion, and emulsification.

6. Plating and Presentation:

· Pay attention to the visual appeal of your dishes. Ahh, I remember well.

· Use different shapes, textures, and colors to create an aesthetically pleasing presentation.

· Consider the balance between negative and positive spaces on the plate.

7. Flavor Balance and Pairings:

· Create a balance between sweet, sour, salty, and bitter flavors.

· Experiment with umami-rich ingredients to enhance overall taste.

· Pair ingredients that complement and enhance each other.

8. Attention to Detail:

· Pay attention to the smallest details, such as garnishes and finishing touches.

· Ensure that each component of the dish is cooked to perfection and seasoned appropriately.

· Aim for consistency in texture and doneness across the entire dish.

9. Practice and Refinement:

· The rated chef’s first attempts may not have reached their desired level of perfection.

· They continued to practice, experiment, and refine their techniques.

· They sought feedback from experienced chefs or knowledgeable individuals to improve their skills.


Pay attention, for those who are interested in design

1. Pre-Construction Planning Phase:

a. Set goals that to meet the needs of the end users. The design will incorporate inclusive and universal design, accessibility, building codes, standards, sustainability, vehicular and pedestrian flow in both the interior and exterior of the building. A design concept and must incorporate creativity, balance, harmony and a combination of patterns, rhythm, etc.

b. Procure a team to develop a feasibility study to analyze existing conditions, assess potential options and to incorporate the goals and objectives.

2. Conceptual and Schematic Design Phase:

a. Develop the Design program and gather information through Owner’s Project Manager, Owner and Designer.

b. Analyze existing conditions and options through a design assessment - Consider high-level functioning as well as vertical and horizontal architectural, interior and landscape elements such as entrances, experience and movement through the space, gathering spaces and amenities.

3. Procurement of Services, Project Delivery Method and Technology:

a. Choose construction management software and other software management tools such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Building Management Systems (BMS) for building controls and preventative maintenance operations.

b. Choose to incorporated Trade Labor Agreements, Supplier Diversity Goals and to develop requirements for select businesses within a pre-determined carbon footprint to achieve MA-CHPs and LEED certification programs when possible.

c. Depending on the project delivery method a construction manager or a general contractor will be procured.

4. Construction Document Phase

a. Continue to conduct several designs and or constructability review meetings to develop the Construction Documents (CDs) with the Owner’s Project Manager, Designer and Owner / Users. As the various revisions are being delivered, all stakeholders on the design team will conduct uniformat cost estimations and plan reviews.

b. Incorporate the firms’ library of construction details and sections into the plans. The plans are broken down by floor and connected by match lines.

c. Alternates, Unit Costs for deliberate Cost Control. Also, evaluate Lifetime cost analysis, operation costs and maintenance contract costs.

d. Hire Structural peer reviewers and any other peer reviewers that the owner wishes to hire.

5. Bidding Phase

a. Project Delivery Method – Construction Manager – Construction Management at Risk (CM@R), General Contractor – Design-Bid-Build (DBB) also known as Conventional Project Delivery Method, Design / Build, etc.

b. Qualifying, Negotiating, Buying Out and Bid leveling

c. CMs developing contracts through the Contract Administration process to share witht the owner if it is a CM@R project delivery method.

6. Construction Phase: We are getting to the good part

a. Weekly project meetings to review the updated schedules, critical path, substantial completion date, potential change orders, user input on temporary controls, safety reports, code issues, risks, payment requisitions.

b. Construction Management – Notice to Proceed, Meeting notes, Submittals, Request for Information, safety inspections and reports.

c. Construction Deliverables – such as construction administration and the actual construction progress.

7. Change Order Management:

a. Know the base bid contract documents thoroughly. Change orders are typically classified as unforeseen conditions, errors and omissions, Code compliance, and an unmanaged project: scope creep which is added scope during construction.

b. Keep a proposed change order log (by Owner), a change order request log (by Contractor) change order log (by all stakeholders). All changes should be documented as credits and extras just like accounting debits and credits.

c. When negotiating change orders and navigating cost savings the base bid is compared to the existing conditions and or the change order proposal.

8. Quality Control and Quality Assurance (QA/QC)

a. These third-party Materials Testing and Inspection inspectors are hired by the owner. These third-party Materials Testing and Inspection inspectors are essentially part of the team. All parties know who they are, not like the Michelin inspectors.

b. The inspectors ensure that each component specified such as the moment welds, bolted connections, bearing plates, dry-density test, soil proctors all meet specifications.

c. Structural Tests and Special Inspections Program and Final Tests and Inspection reports to be submitted by the design professional with the affidavits.

9. Closeout: Whew, we are at the end!

a. Training and Commissioning Final Report

b. Operation & Maintenance Manuals (O&Ms) including warrantees

c. Substantial Completion letter and Certificate of Occupancy provided by the Building Inspector.


Achieving Michelin-level excellence and delivering successful Design and Construction projects multiple times over are continuous journeys of learning, practice, and refinement. It takes dedication, desire and enthusiasm to develop the skills required to prepare a four-star Michelin meal as well as to design and construct a safe, livable, workable, inspirational environment.

Get pumped up.

This is just a smattering of information. The more assignments the construction manager is given, the more efficient and advanced their professional systems, technological systems and decision-making skills become.

Continue to practice at your own pace, borrow practices and techniques from others and always set your professional and project goals.

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