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Jonathan Meades Blinded by Michelin


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Blinded by the Michelin Stars

Interesting piece in today's Telegraph about Michelin. Who could he be refering to?

The second group is composed of journalists. Not those journalists who write about cooking or restaurants, but eager reporters who are persuaded by Michelin’s publicity machine that the guide’s awards should be annually recorded, as though they matter. Hence the influence of this pernicious book stretches far beyond the few people who actually read it.
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I think the most pro-michelin organisation out there are not the press journalists - covering the awards once a year is hardly shilling - but the BBC, its rare to see a cooking programme that doesn't eulogise about michelin stars.

Well done to michelin, lots of prime time free advertising for their commercial product!

journos seem an odd target, plenty of press coverage for the '50 Best' too.

Michelin matter because they are the currency of the trade and usually bring in real trade too.

one idiosyncratic chef leaving and whinging about michelin i don't think will cause any great upset or evaluation of what they do. Note she's not 'given her star back' she's just left the restaurant.

Edited by Gary Marshall (log)

you don't win friends with salad

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Reminds us all what we lost when Meades stopped being a restaurant critic. Like all the genuinely good restaurant critics it wasn't the only thing he wrote about, just one of them. A writer first and a restaurant critic second. Apart from Gill who fits that description anymore?

I still can't follow Meades on TV though, his writing does not work well when spoken and his habit of popping into frame from unexpected angles is a bit distracting!

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I imagine that the "wrong crowd" attracted to Petersham nurseries "ad hoc cafe" might have been due to the prices and location rather than the star. £13.50 for Buratta with grilled Polenta, £16.50 for spinach and ricotta ravioli, how about the £29 for Wild seabass with braised fennel and ginger? Its hardly going to attract a casual dining crowd stopping for a bite to eat while shopping for daffodil bulbs is it?

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Just looking at the other awards Petersham nurseries has won:

* Time Out Award for Best Alfesco Dining (2005)

* The BMW 1 Series Good Food Ride for ‘The most wonderful lunchtime bowl of soup’ (2006)

* Tatler Award for Most Original Restaurant (2006)

* Observer Food Monthly Awards, runner up for best Sunday lunch (2006)

* Garden Retail Awards for best catering (2007)

* Observer Food Monthly Awards for runner-up best Sunday lunch (2008)

* The Hedonist guide to EAT LONDON (2008-2009)

* Number 1 restaurant “Worth the schlep

Hmmm....BMW, Tatler, The Hedonist guide

I can well imagine that coupled with the prices there is a certain expectation for levels of service and surroundings :hmmm: Of course it's Michelins fault :rolleyes:

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I liked it there but it was always bloody expensive and some of the staff, no doubt taking their cue from Skye who is rather snotty, were casual to the point of rudeness and 'be grateful we let you in'.

The price of wellies in the attached shop was insane too!

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Reminds us all what we lost when Meades stopped being a restaurant critic. Like all the genuinely good restaurant critics it wasn't the only thing he wrote about, just one of them. A writer first and a restaurant critic second. Apart from Gill who fits that description anymore?

I still can't follow Meades on TV though, his writing does not work well when spoken and his habit of popping into frame from unexpected angles is a bit distracting!

Worst of all, one becomes so used to his sun-glassed persona,

that to see him wearing 'normal' spectacles is positively startling .

He still looks as though he is a restaurant critic though..

Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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Did you not think he looked a little unwell though? He has that wrinkled over sized skin that fat people get when they crash diet, Nigel Lawson had it as did Terry Durack. The weight comes off but the skin is not elastic enough and stays at the original size

Meades certainly has an impressive collection of Raybans, and they arent cheap you know

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If twitter is anything to go by, everyone seems to be blinded by Meades here. I have to say I don't really admire this writing. I agree with the central theme, but I think the stereotypes are lazy. I know we'd all like to think that we're SOOOO much more discerning than the average rich arsehole (it's clear that Meades thinks he is), but I don't see why that should be the case. Of course there are trophy eaters with expense accounts, but who cares?

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Really? Michelin guide is outdated and out of touch?

What perceptiveness.

I've never seen that story written up before.

Definitely not.

Definitely definitely not.

Nah.

I mean Mr Meades must be some remarkably incisive genius to spot that. I feel privileged to stand pygmy like in his shadow.

J

PS Errr, slow news week then Jonathan?

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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I think he's being more elitist that those whom he criticises. Nowadays we have a way to see what 'the masses' really think: Tripadvisor. After careful and extensive research... I see very few complaints about the trimmings of Michelin star places, in fact it is full of 'wows!' and 'the best meal of my life' and praises for the 'incredible service, we never had to touch the bottle'. People like to be treated well and sometimes even that touch of formality (me, I beg the waiters to let me pour my wine but they always refuse).

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Just in case you haven't caught up with the news, Skye Gyngell has left Petersham nurseries and is to be replaced by another Aussie, Greg Malouf. Article here.

Edited to add, always read the story before posting [doh].

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Malouf's "thing" is Middle Eastern/Eastern Mediterranean food, of which I'm rather a fan myself. Bought his book "Arabesque" a few months back in a remainder shop for a couple of quid. Thought it was awful and we never cooked anything from it, before packing it off to the local charity shop.

John Hartley

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Malouf's "thing" is Middle Eastern/Eastern Mediterranean food, of which I'm rather a fan myself. Bought his book "Arabesque" a few months back in a remainder shop for a couple of quid. Thought it was awful and we never cooked anything from it, before packing it off to the local charity shop.

The only hope is that he doesn't cook out of his book then! :smile:

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there was an even sillier sunday times article yesterday about gyngell/michelin. thankfully if you didn't see it, it'll be safe behind the paywall.

particularly fine line about people liking formal michelin places so they can shout 'garcon'at the waiters rather than slum it without table clothes etc at petersham.

yes, that's exactly why i like a formal dining room.

you don't win friends with salad

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Yep, I read the Times article. Generally I'd agree that it was silly in parts. That said, you do often get a different spin on things if you read comments about some restaurants here on egullet and then read contributions to TripAdvisor.

I suspect most punters have expectations when they go to a starred restaurant, particularly if they don't have many experiences of them to make comparisions. For example, if you'd turned up at the Sportsman for your first ever starred meal, and it was a weekend when the tasting menu isnt on, would you be disappointed? I think you might well be. For example, is a pub ever worth two stars - I look at the Hand & Flowers menu and really do wonder.

John Hartley

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well my shoe in for the first two starred pub was the star at harome, and it's currently got none so what do i know? :laugh:

the star wouldn't raise any eyebrows to my mind experience wise as 2 star but although the H&F is a very pleasant spot it's not in the same league, though like the sportsman they are both tennanted so there's not much incentive for them to spend too much on the fabric of the building.

you don't win friends with salad

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I don't like Michelin at the best of times, I find them incredibly bias in favour of french chefs but I actually sympathise for them a bit here. They try to expand the remit of their one star establishments and then get criticised for it. Or, more accurately in this case, get criticised for the clientele it has attracted. They're kinda damned if they do and damned if they don't.

I also find this 'expectation' line as the reason for Skye leaving highly suspicious. The prices at Petersham are totally discriminatory from the off. £30 a main plate means you already have a certain degree of expectation and, given they were full day in day out, can't quite figure out where all these ignorant oafs appeared from all of a sudden. If they did they could only have been few and far between in amongst their already established customer base.

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Jonathan Meades has always been hugely sceptical about the Red Guide, his comments in the Telegraph recently are out of touch with today's guide. Michelin are bang up to date these days, especially I believe at 1 star level, yes you could argue about the H&F 2 stars, but 10 yrs ago places like Arbutus, H&F, St.John & The Sportsman would've never got stars.

Skye Gyngell's recently quoted in an Australian daily " Receiving the star has been a curse" I'm so confused because she also commented on the fact that the restaurant has been rammed since they got it. I'm not in the restaurant game but ain't that a good thing, isn't that the best piece of free publicity one could hope for?

I'm sure that her backers have a different view on things. Greg Malouf is a big draw for them, he's a great replacement, I'm sure that he's got a different view on the star.

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