surinenglish

Michelin claims

There is little argument about whether the famous Michelin Guide punches above its weight. For a publication that has tiny sales figures, there is hardly a restaurant in the world that would not roll over on its back to be featured. I have never bought a copy, nor ever seen anyone buy it, nor read it. So what's the point? It must be assumed to be newsworthy, so any mention of a chef or a restaurant, or even a dish, will be guaranteed international coverage if the word Michelin can be somehow factored in. Marbella's favourite culinary son, Dani García, announced last month he would be closing his Michelin-starred restaurant. This 'news' was published all over the world.

When yours truly recently published an article in Diario SUR, the Spanish sister paper of SUR in English, about "Michelin chefs", it was referred to, and indeed plagiarised, at an international level. So is it fair game to use a Michelin reference to bait a hook? Recent events show that it is, however misleading it may be. A five-star Marbella hotel announced last week that it will hold an event in May at which "26 of Spain's best chefs will be attending... who between them can count 45 Michelin stars". As I, and many other food writers, never tire of pointing out, there is no such thing as a "Michelin chef". The fussy little guide sends out its inspectors to anonymously assess restaurants (NB: restaurants, not chefs). The final decision about star quality is taken in Michelin's Paris head office, based on the reports submitted from the front. The food is important, but - Michelin refuses to give details - so is the service, the politeness of the staff, the seating arrangements, the general atmosphere, the wine list, etc. It is certainly not rated only on the quality of the cooking.

So how can this landmark hotel, founded in 1962 and whose restaurant was the first hotel restaurant in Spain to be awarded a Michelin star (nice touch this!) be advertising an event based on those claims?