Chef Marco Pierre White, who famously gave back his three Michelin stars in 1999 proclaiming that he was being judged by people who had less culinary knowledge than himself, has once again hit out at the Michelin ratings system.
During an appearance at his Birmingham based restaurant, The Cube, the often moody chef, claimed: "Michelin star restaurants are not what people want."
The chef, who now owns a range of gastro-pubs and has endorsed products from stock cubes to turkey, added: "I find a lot of the modern Michelin-starred restaurants are trying too hard...The future of dining out is casual dining."
White, who has himself gone in a more casual direction, will of course make these claims, however, 'casual' is a trend that has been emerging across the fine dining scene for quite some time. Restaurants like Nuno Mendes at The Corner Room in London, Christian Puglisi at Reale in Copenhagen and Albert Adria at his Tickets restaurant in Barcelona - all opting for a casual based settings with informal, yet, knowledgeable staff and dining rooms full of atmosphere.
What White says does seem to resonate across the industry but to assert that Michelin is, 'not what people want' seems to overlook how the guide has slowly shifted gears in the past few years. Michelin seems to be focusing on the little eateries that in years past, its heavy, 19-knife-and-fork, French facing outlook would have never allowed.
Restaurants like Pont De Ferr in Milan, a small trattoria that was awarded a Michelin star back in 2011 and of course The Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare - just 18 seats and now with three Michelin stars. Ok, these restaurants may sway towards large tasting menus, something White claims are made up of: "little knick-knacks of food served 12 times.," but isn't the tasting menu the stage for any great chef? Their time to shine and a time for guests to sit back and enjoy the show, a track list dictated by the chef, after all, they produced the songs. I wonder, would fans at Glastonbury expect to dictate the order in which The Stones played their set? I think not.
Casual is a returning theme but will it kill great tasting menus or the importance of Michelin? I think not, Michelin will evolve along with the industry it grades and as long as it continues to provide insight into the new, smaller eateries, bistros and more recently, little dim sum tea shops, it's relevance will remain.
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