The publication of the results of the Michelin Guide for Belgium have been the subject of intense debate on social media and also in the Belgian media with critics hitting out for the difference in treatment of the different regions in Belgium.
But Sang Hoon Degeimbre, chef of two Michelin star restaurant L’Air du Temps and the most representative chef of the Wallonia region in Belgium has said that he feels saddened by comments claiming injustice, differences, lobbying and even ‘favouritism’ for the Flemish region. “This saddens me. Instead of celebrating our culinary heritage and dynamism in our country, we focus on the differences between regions. Of course I believe in Wallonia and its talents, in the work of chefs and producers which I work to promote on a daily basis.”
While 14 new restaurants received a Michelin star in the new 2018 guide, 12 were in Flanders, 1 in the Brussels region and 1 in Wallonia. The three restaurants that were promoted to 2 stars all hail from Flanders. This has led to heavy criticism from critics who have firstly criticised the guide for ‘forgetting’ to review the other Belgian regions but also criticism on lobbying which is done differently by the different regions of Belgium.
The promotion of a number of restaurants in the Michelin guide was welcomed by many who had criticised the guide for not being in sync with what was actually happening on the ground.
The chef of L’Air du Temps warned against division. “We should be happy that Belgium is becoming more and more recognised internationally. Whichever the region, this benefits all of us. We should use our energy and the little time we have outside our kitchens to promote Belgium and not to attack institutions, guides or personalities,” the chef said on his restaurant’s Facebook page.
The founder of Generation W, the collective of chefs that promotes Wallonia, its cuisine and its producers said that more work needs to be done to communicate about the region but he would not point fingers at anyone because this was the job of each one who was in this business. “For many years, Generation W has worked to promote the region through subsidies and partners. “We can go further but it requires time,” he said.
Food writer Rene Sepul wrote how difficult it was for the Wallons and the Brussels chefs after the publication of the Michelin guide. He noted that there were many in Brussels and Wallonia who deserved to be upgraded either to two stars or to three stars (the case for Bon Bon, L’Air du Temps and Chalet de la Foret)
Michelin Belux director Werner Loens told Hubert Heyrendt, journalist of La Libre Belgique that the guide had visited David Martin of La Paix in Brussels 12 times, Sea Grill 8 times and Bon Bon 6 times (only because it was closed for two months in July and August) as a way to justify themselves for not awarding them with a second (in the case of la Paix) or third star respectively.