Michelin Guide will delay publication for first time since WWII

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.

FRANCE-HEALTH-VIRUS-FOOD

French chef Olivier Nasti prepares meals with his brigade in the kitchen of his Michelin two-star restaurant, Le Chambard, in Kaysersberg, eastern France, on April 23, while the country is under a strict lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.

FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP via Getty Images

FRANCE-HEALTH-VIRUS

French chef Christopher Coutanceau, who won the maximum three Michelin stars this year, prepares takeaway meals on May 6 at his restaurant in La Rochelle, France.

MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP via Getty Images

The Restaurant Casa Leopoldo Converts Its Kitchen For Health Workers And Vulnerable People

Cooks from Michelin-starred Casa Leopoldo ready dishes on April 16, after the restaurant’s kitchen was converted to prepare food for health personnel and vulnerable people in Barcelona, Spain.

David Zorrakino/Europa Press via Getty Images

L'Auberge du Père Bise, Michelin-Starred Restaurant, Creates Take-Away Orders During Coronavirus Lockdown

Pastry chef Kevin Ollivier prepares some cabbage pastries with blueberries and wild thyme for takeaway meals at L’Auberge du Pere Bise on April 19 in Talloires, France.

Richard Bord/Getty Images

L'Auberge du Père Bise, Michelin-Starred Restaurant, Creates Take-Away Orders During Coronavirus Lockdown

Catering manager Marion Ollivier prepares a takeaway meal at two Michelin star L’Auberge du Pere Bise. Chef Jean Sulpice and his team are producing to-go meals for clients during France’s lockdown.

Richard Bord/Getty Images

Michelin-Starred Chef Xanty Elias Serves Free Daily Lunch To The Community In Huelva

Michelin-starred chef Xanty Elias’ team of assistants and volunteers prepare free meals on April 24 in Huelva, Spain. Elias is serving free daily lunch as part of the World Central Kitchen nonprofit. 

Marcelo del Pozo/Getty Images

Chef Laurent Petit Opens His Michelin-Starred Restaurant To Local Vegetable Producers In Annecy

Croissants, cookies, bread and pistoles (chocolate bread) are displayed at the Pan & Gato bakery stand at Le Clos des Sens restaurant on April 25 in Annecy-le-Vieux, France. Chef Laurent Petit has opened his three Michelin star restaurant as a farmers market to support local producers in the Annecy area during the national lockdown.

Richard Bord/Getty Images

High End New York City Restaurants Offer Take Out And Delivery Options As Coronavirus Pandemic Devastates Restaurant Industry

Head chef and owner Jeremiah Stone and line cook Francisco Pedemonte prepare food at Contra, which has one Michelin star, on April 24 on the Lower East Side. 

Gary He/Getty Images

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.

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