food & drink

No-one left to rate

While the thoughts of many readers will not be far from the suffering that the restaurant trade is going through, has anyone given a passing thought to restaurant inspectors?

These peripatetic professionals are surely taking a well-earned rest these days, perhaps even dieting to get a trimmer waistline. Never before have they been forced to take time off and live like normal people, ergo, not eating in restaurants twice a day.

Fine dining restaurants are doing takeaways, neighbourhood restaurants have morphed into charities, and many favourites have gone forever.

For the organisations whose purpose was to exalt these restaurants with awards and rankings, carrying on as usual is no longer possible, especially as the near collapse of the restaurant industry has led many to question the value of such awards in the first place.

Another factor is the revamping of many top eateries. Stockholm's Noma, for example, frequently nominated the world's best, will become more of a hamburger joint than a restaurant (maybe René Redzepi has been talking to Marbella's Dani Garcia), and there are many similar examples.

The James Beard Awards, World's 50 Best Restaurants, and Michelin have different philosophies about restaurant awards in a recovering restaurant industry.

Michelin will not publish its hard-cover Guide for the time being, and a digital version takes its place; the annual awards ceremony is on hold.

The other two market leaders are still testing the water, but there is a general feeling that any kind of media-attracting event will assist the industry out of the present doldrums. Since hundreds of thousands of jobs are in the balance, let's hope they are right.