Like the British Michelin results in January, the major promotions in the forthcoming French guide, not due out till next month, were leaked yesterday (in Le Figaro). Most notable, from a UK perspective, is the immediate elevation of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at the Trianon Versailles to two stars.
Ramsay will then have two-star restaurants in both New York and Paris. In both cases, the awards would appear to defy the majority of informed local opinion, rather tending to support the view, as most clearly expressed by New York GQ critic Alan Richman, that Michelin appears to be “dedicated not to assessing cuisine but to gathering celebrity chefs into its fold”.
This cynical view has tended to be supported by most British commentary on the recent London award to big-name chefs – see, for example, the comments of Fay Maschler and Marina O’Loughlin. It certainly seems to be taken as a ‘given’ by Figaro’s François Simon that awards need not necessarily have anything to do with quality. Speaking of the impending promotion of Le Bristol to three-star status, for example, France’s most celebrated critic says:
“No one will ask if the promotion was justified or not. It’s more to do with a determined marketing line (un sens marketing avisé) by Michelin. For the table being rewarded is the favourite of le Président de la République” (emphasis added)!
On Ramsay, he says, “What should probably startle food-lovers is [the two stars for Ramsay], putting the stereotyped cuisine of a well-informed Briton (not really bad, but not original) on the same level as the copyright dishes of [a number of French chefs of high repute]”.