Like it or not, Michelin is the only restaurant-rating authority with some claim to ranking the top establishments in the world’s top cities on a seemingly comparable basis.
We are indebted to our friends at Bloomberg for running the numbers and pointing out that Michelin guides recently published (including to Las Vegas and Tokyo) have rewritten the world pecking-order in the last few weeks. The total numbers of stars awarded to the empires of the biggest-name chefs now stand as follows:
1. Joel Robuchon (F) - 17
2. Alain Ducasse (F) - 15
3. Gordon Ramsay (UK) - 11
4. Thomas Keller (US) – 7
Tokyo, incidentally, is now by far the world’s most Michelin-starred city, reports caterersearch.com. Its 191 stars represent a tally nearly twice that of Paris (97) and more than three times that of London (49).
PS (20 November) For a good overview of Tokyo’s amazing restaurant scene, see this article in The Times.
PPS (22 November) As we’ve said before, the irritating thing about Michelin is not so much Michelin itself, but the mindless veneration in which it is held by some leading chefs. (Witness Gordon Ramsay’s recent picture on the front of Observer Food Monthly with the, arguably misleading, claim of ‘12 stars' tattooed across his fingers.)
But is the veneration not justified by the Guide’s profound research, and its exquisite sensitivities? Well, read what the Los Angeles Times has to say today about the new Guide to the City of the Angels: “It’s amateur hour chez Michelin”. In a long and considered piece, a staff writer notes: “What shocked me wasn't who did and did not get stars; rather, it was that the book that purports to be the bible of fine dining is so poorly researched and lamely written that the ratings have no credibility”. Or see what NY Mag says on the same subject: “First comes the shock at how dopey and random the choices are; then how badly the book is written really hits you”.
PPPS (26 November) For a more positive review of the new LA Michelin see johnmariani.com. Funny how many pro-Michelin writers tend to be male and – how can one put this? – of a certain age.
PPPPS (4 December) : The very last word on the LA Michelin: “In France, at the moment, the main cultural importance of Michelin is as an institution to rebel against, a homogenizing force whose lavish preferences, either real or imagined, jack up prices and fill dining rooms with rich tourists. In Los Angeles, it is merely irrelevant.”
PPPPPS (24 February 2008) : Last word on the Tokyo Michelin, from the NY Times “Food critics, magazines and even the governor of Tokyo have questioned the guide’s choice of restaurants and ratings….