Me, Myself and the Guide Michelin

Recognition, something we all strive for at least once in our lives? And who are these people to judge? But surely it is us with that desire to achieve ratification. We are those with the open ears and eyes ready to read and hear somebody elses opinion on who we are and the work that we do.

Recently the Michelin Guide has been hot topic. The same time every year the culinary world starts to talk and whisper about this little red book. Over the last few years one must admit Michelin has done itself no favors; slip ups and enigmatic tasters, proof that secrecy never did anyone any favours. However I still feel this urge to fight its corner. I feel that everyone is out to get it and prove why its results are so unimportant but at the same time we all know what an honour it is to receive this little stars.

From my own experience of working in a 3 star establishment, I can vouch for the honest hard work put in to achieve such an honour. I feel that when we discuss the guide we also loose focus of what it stands for and this is a luxury industry that is to be respected for its workmanship.

The wine industry, one could argue is just as out of touch as the Michelin guide, with certain people having the power to turn a wine that could sell for €15 into to a mysterious wonder selling at well over £500 a bottle. But as with the Michelin guide there is a market for it, this may not be everyone’s weekday wine but it does have its audience. And as much as I hate to say it, these critics are wanted and needed, the proof lie in their success. Which brings me back to the Michelin guide.

The teams of talented chefs and perfection seeking front of house work sometimes up to 17 hours a day in order to provide an experience; if one wants a meal to which last only 2hrs and consist of 2 courses then maybe 3 star shouldn’t be the location of choice as it is generally only when the full experience has been had, can one understand what all the hype is about. These chefs and waiting staff should be respected for the artistry of their work and the Michelin provides recognition for this hard, grueling work – something that the wages regularly do not do!

During my time in the industry, our drive was purely a case of wanting to provide an experience that is not only faultless but one you just don’t forget and for one night you are whisked away to a faraway place where your sense are in heaven. (No cliches intended, this is just what happens when one is led by passion). We didn’t strive for the 3 stars, but boy was I chuffed when we got them!

All industries also have casualties, be it actors that go off the rails after winning an Oscar or artists after getting their first exhibition with Saatchi decide they are misunderstood and have a breakdown. If you are unfortunate enough to live your life in the hands of a critic then what can you expect, it is a guide and merely a guide to use once one understands what it represents and it is not a crime to also disagree with its in halt or opinion. I too have certain wine writers/critics to which I read and favor over others, but this is not crime.

We are currently experiencing an odd time where trash-chic is in and enjoying anything that may come across as a luxury or elitist is out. I can appreciate we all need to take a step back and enjoy the basics that life has to offer, but at the same time one girls Mulberry Bag is another girls 3 Star restaurant.


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