I don’t know much about Michelin stars, but when I was a junior in advertising I worked on the Michelin account so I’m not completely clueless either. I often hear and agree with their judging methods. 1. Judges are always anonymous and 2. A restaurant needs to be ‘inspected’ at least 3 times to be given a final evaluation.
Last week I found this BBC documentary 4-5 years ago with a more comprehensive dedication: The Madness of Perfection. Here’s the link to the video.
Then I realised the crushing weight of a star (or macaron as they call it). And how the secrecy is the boon and bane of the Michelin system.
Think about it. Judges can come in and out of your restaurant whether you want them or not. They make judgement on your service and food whether you want them or not. And you will only find out about the feedback in a red book published once a year. Possibly 5 sentences in total, IF you’re lucky.
If your astrological planets were aligned to win a star, it means you’re welcomed to the elite circle, (again,whether you want to or not). But what most people don’t realise, is that the disaster of losing a star overshadows the joy of winning one.
Most restaurants that win the stars struggle to keep up with the sudden influx of bookings and fame.
Most restaurants that lose their stars (which they didn’t ask for in the first place) close shop.
The judges were harsh, but I guess the public is worse.
The interviewer in the documentary was a food writer, and he questioned how a tyre company has so much authority to make or break the industry. After all, it’s just food.
It’s not worth dying for, is it?
Well, Bernard Loiseau, a French chef killed himself when media 'hinted’ that he may lose his 3 star rating. With a shotgun. In the mouth. Because of a rumour.
I’ve been in the advertising industry for years, and no one is more award-hungry than the agencies. Yet I don’t think I’ve heard of any Creative Directors losing their lives out of any pencils or lions. Ever.
Sure Michelin tries to soften their stuffiness by awarding a star to a humble Yum Cha joint in Hong Kong, but food and elitists really shouldn’t mix.
I will go to a Michelin restaurant for special occasion or simply out of curiosity. But if your dining experience contains words such as 'complexity of texture’ or 'intense flavour’ or 'underlying technique’, then you have bigger issue to worry about in your life.
Note: I was cracking my head trying to write this post, but then realise the comments of the YouTube video echoes more truth to my head than my writing. Probably more entertaining too.