I had to sleep on my thoughts before writing this last night because I was loathe to have another post with the word Bull^&$#% in the title! First, congratulations to all of the Bib and Star restaurants that were recognized by the Michelin Star Chamber. Having worked in the industry, I can appreciate the achievement you all feel this morning. At the same time, I’m glad I’m no longer working in the industry so I can fully express how I feel and think!
I honestly don’t think the Chicago Michelin Inspectors “get it.” It’s public knowledge my opinion on critics and reviewers. With the Inspectors, we have no knowledge of what their background, experiences or prejudices are. I began questioning their taste buds when I saw Ann Sather made the Bib Gourmand list! Are you %&&@$#%^ kidding me? Do you think pizza is a vegetable too? To put that restaurant in the same breath as others on that list is an insult! Don’t get me started on Browntrout, where I recently spent $200 on 2 apps, 2 entrees a split dessert and mediocre bottle of wine with questionable service. If that’s considered Bib pricing, your list is forgetting a lot of other worthy restaurants.
Last year they crutched the Avec omission based on their temporary closing. This year they only give them a Bib which defies common sense. I’m really beginning to think you put pizza in the vegetable category! This year’s glaring WHOOPS is no mention of Next, the second restaurant for the Alinea boys. I loved the sarcasm Nick Kokonas used when tweeting about the same night tickets. Personally, with no help from connections, I have eaten at Next 3 times. If you have any knowledge about what you’re writing subject is you should have gotten in and understood the experience. So pizza is a leafy green right?
Maybe Pascal Remy was right, in his book, in saying, “Your life is drudgery and you couldn’t get to enough places!” The biggest disrespect is the lack of additions to the list of starred restaurants. You know we should have to buy a new book, right? This year some restaurants were taken off the list - chef’s departing or re-concept. L2O was put in the 1 Star category. Many see that as insult but considering other places were removed and the original chef left with a big FU! to the team. I consider it a pretty good job to stay on the list. What others perceive as failure, Courtright’s has opened their best bottles of champagne over! But how do you not add more places to the list? How do you remove Crofton on Wells after 1 year? That restaurant had been open a very long time so either you got it wrong the first time or they’ve changed their focus.
Maybe, possibly in some weird alternate universe where Ann Sather’s is put in ANY list with the word Gourmand – the Chicago way – the Michelin Inspectors know something about food. I imagine I am taller, play QB for the Bears and date models while riding a unicorn in this universe as well. But in this universe and today in Chicago, the Michelin Inspectors know nothing about business. Las Vegas and Los Angeles were both pulled because no one was buying the book which pays for all those cinnamon rolls and pizza vegetables. If you don’t change the relevant lists – they added 90ish restaurants to the book – then no one is going to buy a new book. Why would I spend any money on a list that has an addition in a town I'll probably never go to? Which means you’ll have a smaller budget and probably get to fewer places, let alone the ones you’ve already designated.
Many have bemoaned the myopic view of not bringing in the suburbs or other restaurants in the region tot he list. It’s the Chicago Michelin guide not the Midwest Guide. But, Chicago is a big city so if you could drive all over LA you should be able to do it here. Granted some restaurants egos are staggering but you should have some representation. Heck, I might actually buy a book at that point.
Michelin hit a big Chicago pot hole in year 2. I can’t imagine they’ll get third time lucky. From a country that perceives Jerry Lewis as comedy genius, perhaps cinnamon rolls are the new pan au chocolate. Michelin is just like Congress - full of vegetables dressed like pizza.
Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Joe is retained as a compensated blogger by Pei Wei Asian Diner and contributes to Eater.com.