LifestylePersona October, 12th 2017 by

Exaggerated Notoriety


AJ Linn


While the Spanish newspaper in which my column appears every week (Diario Sur) stoically but inaccurately insists on referring to ‘Michelin chefs’ in its pages, when such an individual does not exist (there are only Michelin restaurants, never Michelin chefs) the little red guide goes from strength to strength with its media hype. Even the most inconsequential item relating to it seems to be treated with over-the-top significance, such as the ‘news’ that Sebastien Bras, the chef of a small restaurant in a French backwater, wants to give up his three stars. Truly amazing that this trivial snippet was featured by the BBC, Fox News, New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, etc.

How many people use the Michelin Guide to choose a restaurant? 0.00000000001% of the world’s population? How on earth can it punch above its weight to the extent that anything that happens within its orbit is considered newsworthy? Even the head office’s reply to Bras was gauged for maximum hype. The spokesperson commented (literally) that ‘this is the first time that a relevant chef from the gastronomic panorama… has made it clear to those who work in the Guide that he does not wish to appear in it’ (pure fiction anyway as several chefs have ‘resigned’ over the years, as I have chronicled in this column). ‘…. His application will be considered.’ At the same time the lady made it clear, quite reasonably, that the Guide is published for the benefit of lovers of good food who buy it, not for chefs.

And if Bras’s wish is not respected? In such a case the chef has a guaranteed route plan to follow: close the restaurant and then re-open it under a new name, with a different menu and more modest prices than previously. At the same time he should make clear in the media the reason for his actions (all he wants is to be left alone to cook as he likes, not to feel each mealtime is a gala performance with no room for slip-ups or capricious cooking). He should then put a notice at the entrance stating, ‘ We reserve the right to refuse admission to Michelin Guide inspectors.’

AJ Linn

Andrew Linn left England 40 years ago to relocate to Spain, having been involved in businesses such as wine shipping and publishing. He currently writes regularly and professionally on wine, food, flamenco, and the Spanish way of life for various publications, and has a regular column in a Spanish newspaper. Andrew is involved in charity work relating to abandoned and mistreated animals.

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