VALLETTA: Michelin works in mysterious ways. We all know this particularly when it comes to transparency or lack of it. But when it comes to announcing the awards it is normally done with a lot of anticipation and much fanfare. So it came as a bit of a surprise today that the Michelin Guide today skipped the Malta announcement. Restauranteurs and chefs were told last month that the results for 2021 would be announced on 9 March.
Malta was one of the few places in Europe which kept restaurants open after summer but last week they were ordered closed because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Chefs and restauranteurs were hoping for a bit of good news to boost their morale particularly since the closure came as a surprise given the previous week their opening hours were extended.
Some restaurants, we are told, had prepared their communication teams for the 11am announcement. But it was not to be as they were informally informed by the Malta Tourism Authority that the event had been postponed to a date, yet to be announced, when restaurants are open.
While last year the guide had postponed a number of releases because of the pandemic, the strategy this year has been different in many countries from Belgium and Luxembourg, to France, Italy and most recently Germany. The communication from Michelin had always been one of support for the sector.
Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of Michelin Guides said 2020 was a particularly challenging and difficult year for restaurant owners. “However they welcomed diners whenever they could, and customers responded eagerly, demonstrating their deep fondness for fine cuisine. For us it was important to honour our longstanding commitment to diners and chefs by publishing our 2021 selection of restaurants,” he said when launching the guide for France despite the fact that the restaurants were closed at the time of publication.
This delay in Malta, while insignificant in the world of gastronomy, should lead to many questions on where the power actually lies and also on how independent the guide really is in countries where it relies on local sponsorship. On the bright side, it might also be an opportunity for the guide to test a few more restaurants which it seems to have missed in its visits to the island.
Last year, Michelin released its first ever guide for Malta. Three restaurants were awarded 1 Michelin star. These were De Mondion in Mdina, Noni and Under Grain in Valletta. Three other restaurants received a Bib Gourmand while 20 other restaurants had been mentioned by the guide.