The latest blow to the world of fine dining has top chefs saying, “Oh, my stars!”
With most restaurants closed due to the coronavirus, restaurant criticism has gotten a whole lot more complicated. As a result, the esteemed Michelin Guide will be delaying print publication of their 2021 restaurant book, which doles out its coveted “Michelin Stars” based on anonymous — and not-at-all socially distant — inspections of top restaurants around the world.
A delay like this one hasn’t been seen since World War II. But, this year at least, a digital edition of the guide will be published before a print product to “present a relevant and accurate restaurant selection,” an unnamed Michelin spokesperson told Big Seven Travel.
The first stars are still expected to be handed out this fall, although there will not be any in-person ceremonies for the remainder of 2020. Instead, Michelin is considering a digital reveal of some kind. Details on what that might look like are slim so far.
Every year, the French tire company puts out its ranking of the best eateries around the world, with the top tier garnering three stars. Earning a spot is one of the highest accolades in the industry.
And it gets contentious — French chef Marc Veyrat sued the company this year after his restaurant La Maison des Bois was downgraded from three stars to two. Michelin’s lawyers fired back, saying Veyrat was a “narcissistic diva,” who should have more respect for the freedom of critics’ opinions. Veyrat lost the case.
The restaurant industry across the world has taken a major hit because of the coronavirus crisis. In the United States, most dining spots have closed their doors or are only open for takeout. Many of the same Michelin-starred chefs who gained their notoriety for serving white table cloth-style meals are now joining the takeout service ranks, some with a charitable purpose.
Michelin says that its famously anonymous inspections will be done in a “special way, as each restaurant will need time to adapt itself and find a new serenity in this chaotic period.”
Following social distancing is a top priority. Michelin is “adapt[ing] our operations to each country’s measures to limit the virus’ spread. We have to keep in mind that each country’s schedule in this crisis is different.”
This won’t dilute the importance of the awards, they say.
“Don’t worry, a Michelin Star, and all our award distinctions, will mean the same in 2021 as they always have,” international guide director Gwendal Poullennec wrote in a release.