A Michelin Guide inspector has written a heartfelt article entitled Things I’ve Missed, with the sub-heading ‘A UK Michelin Inspector wants his old life back,’ at a time when many chefs and restaurant workers would like their old lives back too.
While Michelin Guide director Gwendal Poullennec recently announced that his inspectors were eager to get back to rating restaurants, rival guides like Gault&Millau have been stressing the importance of supporting restaurants in their time of need.
In Things I’ve Missed, published on the Michelin Guide website, the anonymous UK inspector lists all the things about the job that he or she craves, from 'crab in Devon', to 'sea urchin in Hokkaido'. It’s a well-written and genuine piece, but it might leave some readers scratching their heads, and some chefs banging their heads against the wall.
“I miss restaurant food; ingredients I can’t get hold of and dishes I can’t make at home. I’m tired of home cooking – I want passionate, committed, talented and practised professionals cooking my dinner,” the inspector writes.
The Michelin Guide isn’t known for allowing the feelings of chefs and restaurant workers to inform their work. The job of an inspector is not to pander to chefs’ egos, but rather to independently and impartially judge their work. Yet last month Poullennec published a message of support and solidarity with struggling restaurants.
“What I would like to say is, wherever you are, whatever kind of restaurant you are running, with our local teams of inspectors we will work with you in any way we can to ensure that the situation gets back to normal as quickly, and as safely, as possible. We know that this route back to recovery will be a gradual one. But please, rest assured that we will be here for you every step of the way,” he said.
It isn’t known quite how the Michelin Guide is working with restaurants during their hour of need, but now is a fitting time to remember that everyone is suffering as a result of the coronavirus crisis, including Michelin Guide inspectors. The industry upon which their jobs depend is going through an unprecedented period of upheaval. And how on earth does one cope without sea urchin in Hokkaido?
Love it or hate it, the Michelin Guide is the gold standard for restaurant recommendations, and is held in high esteem by most. Fine dining needs the Michelin Guide - just not right now. Let's get our restaurants safe, secure and back on their feet first.