A South Korean chef is suing the Michelin Guide for including his restaurant in the Seoul 2020 edition.
The chef Eo Yun-gwon, who runs Italian restaurant Ristorante EO has announced that he is filing a lawsuit against the Michelin Guide for inclusion in the 2020 edition for Seoul, when he asked not to be included.
Chef Eo claims he is suing under the South Korean law ‘against public insult’ and has claimed that the inclusion of his restaurant in the guide against his wishes amounts to impingement of that law.
On his Facebook page said: "There are thousands of restaurants in Seoul that are on the same level or better and more honest than those listed on the Michelin guide. It is a sad joke that a mere 170 of them are representing Seoul."
The chef said he emailed Michelin to remove Ristorante Eo from the guide across all categories and asked for an explanation of the criteria for rating restaurants.
In another post, Eo said: "I have filed a criminal complaint against Michelin Guide's behaviour of forcibly listing [restaurants] against their will and without clear criteria," according to a translation.
"Including my restaurant Eo in the corrupt book is defamation against members of Eo and the fans. Like a ghost, they did not have a contact number and I was only able to get in touch through email. Although I clearly refused to list of my restaurant, they included it at their will this year as well."
"Let me out of the Guide"
Ristorante Eo received its first star in the inaugural 2017 Michelin Guide to Seoul, however, Eo told The Korea Herald that since the first edition, he has emailed the company on multiple occasions asking to be left out of the guide.
In 2019, Ristorante Eo lost its Michelin star and it was placed in ‘The Plate’ category which denotes very good food but is a lower-ranking than the coveted star.
This month the much-publicized case of chef Marc Veyrat Vs Michelin Guide will go to court in France. The French chef is taking the guide to court over an alleged mix up regarding a soufflé, which has been dubbed ‘Cheddar Gate’ by the media.
There has been a recent backlash by chefs against the Michelin Guide, however, the star ranking system remains the standard to which chefs aspire in the industry.
A South Korean criminal attorney Shin Ha-na told CNN that the legal complaint is not likely to hold up. "There needs to be an insulting statement that would cut down one's social standing," Shin said. "Usually, there needs to be curse words. Since the guide didn't print profanity, I don't think the charge will stand."
The Michelin Guide Seoul 2020 edition was mired in controversy this year when allegations were made that certain restaurants that gained stars, had worked with a consultant who had previously worked within the Michelin Guide. Michelin refuted all allegations and claimed that the individual in question was unknown to them.