Is the Michelin Guide Still Relevant?
Over a century old, the Michelin Guide, the star-ratings restaurant guide paid for by the French tire company, is arguably the best-known on the planet.
But recently, the guide has taken its fair share of heat. A.A. Gil of Vanity Fair has said, "It's no accident that the legacy of 100 years of Michelin is not just an emaciated, inhospitable French table but the legion of score-settling adjective junkies populating unreadable Internet blogs." And Esquire's John Mariani adds, "Rather than handing down pontifical blessings, they now seem to toss out stars in an effort to be loved, at least by people able to toss around $500 for dinner."
Has the Michelin Guide lost its relevance? I asked Valley chefs and restaurateurs, and this is what they had to say:
While Michelin Guides are widely known as the most respected source of restaurant reviews and evaluations, people nowadays are seeking online reviews. The Michelin Guide is failing to keep up with the majority of diners and will only continue to affect the highest echelon of dining. With all of the self-proclaimed "foodies," social sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp connect with people much more than the larger rating systems of old.
In Arizona, it's basically irrelevant; but in regions they cover well, like New York, London, Continental Europe, and parts of Asia, it's an indispensable guide to fine-dining restaurants. But remember these two qualifiers: First, it's a guide, not the gospel; and second, their job is covering only fine dining.
The Michelin guide is certainly relevant, but not to me or most of the places that I will ever dine at. There are too many small places that I would rather hit that will never have an inspector cross their threshold. Have never picked one up and probably never will.
It's still relevant because they review a large amount of restaurants all over the world, but the ratings are done by professionals in the industry. It's not so much of a popularity contest or who you know because, with Michelin, it's based purely on their system and you can't up your rating with social media. Like restaurant critics, you may not always agree with them, but they seem to be fair.