Le Guide MichelinLe Guide Michelin

I am sick and tired of hearing New Yorkers complain about the Michelin ratings and then insisting that New Yorkers don’t care. This morning I got an emergency email newsletter from Andrea Strong stating, among other things:

Look, I certainly appreciate the prestige of the Guide, especially for chefs reared and schooled in Europe, but I just don’t think the restaurants chosen give the Guide much credibility, and honestly, I don’t think that the general NYC public is going to really care that much what Michelin has to say about our restaurants. There will be a lot of press about the book and people will buy it, I suppose, but will they really make their dining decisions by it? My guess is no. Most New Yorkers are about word of mouth, or tried and true local reviewers, or this thing here known as the food blog. We don’t need Michelin.

I’m not trash talking Andrea, and I enjoy her weekly Strong Buzz, but I feel like I’m reading the same story over and over again on weblogs, in the Post, and in the Times.

Personally, I do care about the Michelin Guide, so I feel free to talk about it all I want to anyone who will listen. I think serious chefs ought to care what Michelin thinks. It’s not some smart-ass Times reporter getting drunk and remarking occasionally about a restaurant’s food—it’s a serious, scientific evaluation of the front and back of the house, and it has a strong bearing on a restaurant’s international reputation. In a city like New York, with restaurants like Per Se and Le Bernardin, that’s important.

Do I think it’s more important than Zagat or the Times? Absolutely not, because I think it’s a completely different system with a completely different endgame. However, let’s not pretend we don’t care about it, because we clearly care a great deal about it. I congratulate every restaurant that earned a listing, and since I think Michelin will inspire unlisted restaurants to work harder in the kitchen, I welcome the snooty French bastards.


I always suspected that Michelin had an endgame, what with the tires, travel guides, that creepy mascot, and well, they’re FRENCH for God’s sake. I’m e-mailing the President…

I just read Andrea’s quote again, and, uhh, she sounds dumb. The Guide should earn “credibility” by praising local favorites? No, just the opposite.

And, she guesses people will “buy” it? Uhh… yeah, but sales numbers of the Guides aren’t the issue. It’s the respect and credibility that it has already earned that’s making low raters go ballistic. Imagine, what if big selling Fodor’s NYC gave bad scores to established NYC restaurants… no one would care!

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