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The Michelin debate


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Following yet another high-profile chef declaring Michelin to be "out of date" and irrelevant (usually associated with said chef losing a star or two, in contrast to the high regard they seem to hold for them while working their way up the ladder), the Today Programme on Radio 4 attempted to pick up on the debate this morning.

I'm sure we all have our own opinions on which restaurants should be in or out, which have been cruelly overlooked and which lavishly overdecorated, but the debate this morningseemed to hang on the view that Michelin Stars are irrelevant because they don't say anything about the opulence of the surroundings, just the food. I could hardly believe that Quentin Letts was putting this forward as some sort of groundbreaking observation without anyone (not least James Naughtie) mentioning that Michelin stars are supposed to just be about the food. Service and general opulence are measured by the knife and fork ratings (1-5).

They then moved on to interview an actual chef, Anton Mosimann, who claimed to have 'given back' his 2 stars when he moved out of the Dorchester in the late 80's, as opposed to just, well, losing them by moving premises and not being quite as good since.

Contrast this with the debate on Tony Naylor's post on the Guardian Food blog, where there are some very intelligent comments (amongst, yes, the usual smattering of nutters) regarding the pros and cons of following the whims and fads of Michelin.

I don't really have a grand point to make, just was spluttering into my coffee on the walk into work this morning over the shockingly ill-informed discussion between a Daily Mail theatre critic and a BBC journalist, neither particularly qualified to talk about fine dining. And I suppose it's no wonder a great many people consider Michelin dining to be elitist when the Michelin debate is reduced to the level of "my chandelier is bigger than yours" on national radio.

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Hmmm... with the timing on this, and the UK/US comparisons, perhaps Marco Pierre White is looking to stir up things a little to publicise his US show.

Chef Marco Pierre White is set to star in the Chopping Block, a new restaurant reality-TV series on US television network NBC.

The show will see the man who was the youngest chef in the world to receive three Michelin stars overseeing eight couples as they run two restaurants in Manhattan.

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They then moved on to interview an actual chef, Anton Mosimann, who claimed to have 'given back' his 2 stars when he moved out of the Dorchester in the late 80's, as opposed to just, well, losing them by moving premises and not being quite as good since.

I would think that its more to do with the fact that Mosimann has run a private dining club since leaving the Dorchester and has therefore disqualified himself from being included in the guide. That said, I ate there a couple of years ago and the food wouldn't have rated 2 stars by a long chalk. Nice place though.

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The claim that he had given back his two stars was not the only bizarre statement that Mosimann made in this short interview. He also claimed that his restaurant at the Dorchester was the first one to receive two stars outside France. This is so wrong that it was outright amusing. There were even three star restaurants outside France long before Mosimann started cooking at the Dorchester.

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He also claimed that his restaurant at the Dorchester was the first one to receive two stars outside France.

His claim is that the Dorchester was the first hotelrestaurant outside France to win 2 Michelin stars which is a different thing. I don't know if its true, but its an oft repeated claim and is also made in his book Essential Mosimann.

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For all its faults, Michelin is still the one guide that chefs will fight to get stars. It means something. It has a dramatic affect on bookings.

You may disagree with it, but the opnions seem honest and not the resut of bribery or advertising.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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I want an elitist food guide. I don't really care where the local good resturants are - I can find that out by myself, checking the net, or by talking to friends.

I want someone to tell me where I can eat the best food in town if I am prepared to pay the price. Michelin does that, at least for my local town of Stockholm. They are really spot on here.

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