The Michelin Guide released their New York rankings yesterday, with the usual fanfare and oohhing and aahhing about who got stars, how many they got, and what that means for the cultural validity of the city's dining scene.
For Los Angeles, this time of year might sting a little, bringing up the fact that we no longer get Michelin ratings after the company decided to "suspend" their guides here in 2009. Chefs especially seem to feel jipped that Michelin doesn't take their efforts into consideration. We've heard many chefs complain that Michelin ought to come back to L.A. When the rankings came out yesterday, Michael Voltaggio tweeted "who thinks its time for @MichelinGuideNY to come back to LA?"
But perhaps we shouldn't fret. Today, Vanity Fair published a devastating piece by A. A. Gill, with the basic opinion that the Michelin Guide had ruined French food and is doing no better for New York. If you love a good take down this story is worth reading for its vicious prose alone:
Food writing is already the recidivist culprit of multiple sins against both language and digestion, but the little encomiums of the Michelin guide effortlessly lick the bottom of the descriptive swill bucket. Take this, for instance, but only if you have a paper bag close at hand: "Can something be too perfect? Can its focus be so singular, pleasure so complete, and technique so flawless that creativity suffers? Per Se proves that this fear is unfounded." That was written in chocolate saliva. Or this: "Devout foodies are quieting their delirium of joy at having scored a reservation--everyone and everything here is living up to the honor of adoring this extraordinary restaurant ... Uni with truffle-oil gelée and brioche expresses the regret that we have but three stars to give." That's not a review of Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare--it's a handjob.
We might also do well to remember that when Michelin was in L.A., it was roundly criticized by the home-town food writers. Some of those criticisms almost match Gill's in the scathing nature of their disappointment.
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So, what good would the guide do us back here in L.A.? And why do chefs want it so badly? Is it because, as Gill says, "Craving the love and the approbation of a stern parent, chefs yearned for the Michelin stars"? Is there any benefit to the public?
Los Angeles yearns to be taken seriously as a dining town, but perhaps this is one mark of approval we simply don't need.