Michelin is at the centre of criticism for its decisions relating to the publication of the Michelin guide in Belgium and Luxembourg. But, given the opportunity to set the record straight, it has refused to answer questions put by Food and Wine Gazette.
Questions addressed to the company that publishes the Michelin Guide were left unanswered with Samuelle Dorol, the PR manager responsible for the Michelin Guides worldwide saying “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to react to your article but I have to decline. You are free to express your opinion regarding the selection which is something we fully respect.”
The questions sent to Michelin were not aimed at contesting the selections but rather at setting the record straight and giving the opportunity to Michelin, to give its side of the story and explain its policies on transparency, restaurant visits, how many inspectors it has, and whether it is true that some cities and countries pay for a guide to be published among others.
While the results of the Michelin guide have always generated discussions among food lovers and has always been the subject of different opinions, the level of criticism levelled at Michelin for its 2017 Belgium and Luxembourg have been stronger than normal.
By failing to answer the questions, Michelin has failed to respond to whether the guide is paid by certain cities/countries for publishing a guide, whether this has an impact on the credibility and its judgement and whether the company aims to improve its transparency practices in the face of growing criticism
We also wanted to know how many inspectors (full-time and part-time) Michelin employed for the whole Belgian/Luxembourg territory, how often they visited the two Michelin star restaurants, how often the one Michelin star restaurants were visited and their views on transparency in general.
Chefs in general acknowledge that the impact of a Michelin star on the restaurant is substantial on a restaurant with turnovers reported to rise by over 20% if a restaurant moves to a higher category.
The criticism levelled at Michelin for the Belgium, Luxembourg guide was mainly centred around the fact that the guide decided to nominate nine new Michelin star restaurants in Belgium but left everything else static in the one, two and three star categories. The guide has been criticised for being completely out of touch with what is going on in the restaurant scene.
The whole list of questions that have been left unanswered are the following.
- What is Michelin’s view of the criticism it has received following the release of the 2017 guide in Belgium and Luxembourg?
- In an age where transparency is becoming more and more important, is Michelin considering improving its transparency practices in future?
- How many inspectors (full time and part time) are there for the whole Belgian/Luxembourg territory (for the year 2016)?
- How often were the two Michelin star restaurants visited (in 2016)?
- How often were the current one Michelin star restaurants visited (in 2016)?
- How many restaurants were visited in total for the 2017 publication in the course of 2016?
- How does Michelin deal with issues of consistency particularly in the face of accusations that it treats different countries and cities differently?
- Why were no one star or two star restaurants worthy of a promotion in Belgium?
- Out of all guides published by Michelin how many are sponsored or partially sponsored by the host country or city?
- Can Michelin reveal which are there countries/cities?
- Does Michelin think that this can potentially create a conflict of interest?
- What are Michelin’s view on transparency in general?
- In the case of the Belgian guide, there were new sponsors? Why does Michelin need such sponsors and what impact does this have on the future credibility of the guide?
- Do you think that the fact that cities/countries partially finance Michelin for publication of the guide creates indirect pressure for other countries to also sponsor the guide? What is the difference between the number of inspectors in sponsored cities or countries and those where Michelin covers its own expenses?