Chef sues Michelin for featuring his restaurant
'Insult' is a crime in South Korea
It’s been a big week for lawsuits in the food world. First we had the vegan guy suing Burger King. Now we have a chef who’s taking the Michelin men to task… or to court.
The South Korean chef Eo Yun-gwon is suing the famous Michelin guide for *including* his Italian eatery in the 2020 guide to Seoul, which came out last week.
You read that right: the South Korean chef is mad that the Michelin inspectors included Ristorante Eo in next year’s book after he specifically asked them not to.
Surely that’s not a crime, we hear you ask? You’d be correct — but chef Eo is actually accusing Michelin of insult, which is a crime under the law in South Korea.
“It is insulting that my name and the restaurant’s name have been listed in an unwholesome book,” he told the Korea Herald. “Though being listed in the Michelin Guide may have a great promotional effect on the restaurant, I don’t want any help from an opaque, subjective company.”
The chef’s restaurant didn’t receive any Michelin stars for 2020, instead it’s featured in the Michelin Plate category which recognises “fresh ingredients, carefully prepared: a good meal.”
Ristorante Eo made an appearance in Michelin’s first guide to the South Korean capital in 2017, receiving one star. It kept that star for the 2018 guide, but then was dropped from the starred joints in the 2019 guide.
But Eo said that downgrade wasn’t why he’s bringing the lawsuit.
Michelin has expanded into Asia only in recent years, and chefs in Seoul have raised questions about the guides’ credibility and accuracy - as reported in The Korea Times.
Eo alleges that the French company’s inspectors only considered 170 restaurants in Seoul and are therefore “unworthy of making an evaluation.”
The chef said he first contacted Michelin asking to be removed from the guide when it received a star in the 2017 guide.
In response to Eo’s, Michelin’s PR in South Korea said: “The principle is to make independent decisions, whether the restaurants request to be included or excluded in the list.”
So what do you think about this lawsuit? Should the chef be bringing the case? And are Michelin getting it right in Asia?