Michelin: the pandemic won't change the importance of our stars
Destination dining is off limits, but Michelin are hopeful
When the Michelin tyre company decided to start recommending restaurants, it did so with one thing in mind: getting drivers to wear out their Michelin tyres. Naturally, then, they were looking for places a little out of the way. The criteria states that Michelin starred restaurants must be “worth a special journey” and a “detour”. But where does that leave them in a post-Covid world? Destination dining is hardly going to be an expanding sector this summer, as people limit travel to prevent virus spread and cut spending as we fall ungracefully into a recession.
Gwendal Poullennec, the international director of Michelin guides has addressed the restaurant community to explain where the Michelin guide fits in to this new order. After some opening remarks of praise to the industry during these unprecedented times, Poullenec reassured restaurants that Michelin is "here for you every step of the way."
"The heart of the MICHELIN Guide is to recommend restaurants, we are not critics. We’ve always wanted to find restaurants serving great food, to unearth new talent and to bring these restaurants to those who love eating out. That’s what we have always done, that’s what we will continue to do tomorrow taking into account the exceptional situation we are living in: during the recovery time, we will be flexible, sensible, respectful and realistic; we will be here to support, promote, publicise and encourage all of you."
This statement implies that the Michelin judges, who remain anonymous, will be lowering the bar to account for the restrictions faced by all.
Poullennec went on to announce Michelin's new digital strategy. Unfortunately, the exact details of this are left unexplained, and the remarks made are fairly incomprehensible. He wrote, "Therefore, a Digital First strategy and an unprecedented commitment by our inspectors".
What exactly that means will remain elusive. However, Poullennec follows with a clear, uncomplicated reassurance, printed in bold lettering: "Don’t worry, a Michelin Star, and all our award distinctions, will mean the same in 2021 as they always have."
Ultimately, the folks at Michelin are "confident in the comeback".
"We know chefs will not lose their skills and customers will return along with our dedicated inspectors, no one will lose their desire for great food."
Restaurants, Poullennec writes, are the "lifeblood" of our towns and cities; they are too vital an institution to fail. He is confident that diners will support their local businesses, and this support will see many restaurants out of the other side of this economic crisis.
Michelin knows all about the multitude of challenges that lay ahead for the restaurant industry, and it wants every restauranteur to know that as they face these challenges, "we will be with you, listening, sharing, cheering."