the falling of the leaves and the autumnal harvest come many seasonal events
we all look forward to – the small town fairs, the harvest dinners, baseball
playoffs and the inevitable new fashion trends....and the new Michelin guide
for New York City! The results for the 2007 guide will be released on October
24th, and the guide itself is available in stores the 25th. But the biggest
story is the release of the premiere Michelin guide for San Francisco on October
3rd, which also covers other areas around the Bay area including Silicon Valley
and Napa Valley (more stars for Mr. Keller?). Looking to get an insider’s
peek at the 2007 New York guide, Restaurant Insider turned to the Michelin
guide’s director Jean-Luc Naret, to see if we could penetrate the Michelin
man’s penchant for secrecy and get any inside information on the upcoming
Q: Last year’s guide sold about 100 thousand copies and you had to do
a reprint after only 2 weeks, were you pleased with the guide’s sales?
A: Yes, absolutely and we are very delighted to note as well that New Yorkers
were buying the guide. Our guide was sold in all the cities where we normally
sell our guides, but 85% of all the guides were bought by New Yorkers who wanted
to see the selection and review the selection. Every time I come back to the
city and look at the restaurants, it’s nice to notice the restaurants
displaying the star they received in the window or in the restaurant itself.
Q: What impact do you think the 1st edition of the New York guide had on restaurants
A: Some restaurants were telling us that they have more than 25% business
above what they had last year because they had been mentioned in the guide.
Even Thomas Keller, whose restaurant was already full, mentioned that he received
many more reservations and requests for reservations. Jean Georges was telling
me that he received letters from cooks around the world who want to work for
him now because he’s a 3-star Michelin. I think it has an incredible
impact in terms of the business as well, exactly like it is in Europe. It’s
very good for us because it means that our readers follow our selections and
read our recommendations as well.
Q: Besides some adjustments in the restaurants that are included, what
differences, if any, will there be in this year’s guide compared to
the 2006 guide?
A: We adjusted the format in that the text will be longer, including more
information on New York, which many people were saying was missing from the
first edition. The book will be about the same number of pages, but the text
will be longer. What we did last year was we included a recipe from the starred
restaurants, and we realized that our readers didn’t want to try the
recipes. It was better for them to try the restaurant than to try the recipe
at home. This we changed and we actually introduced more sample menus from
the restaurants rather than any one single recipe.
Q: What was the timing for newly opened restaurants to be included in the
A: Usually we close our selection by the end of August. Everything that was
open before that, and has been tested to be entered in the guide, will be entered
in the guide. But we always try to make sure that we’re not testing a
restaurant the first week they are opening. We’ll go there, and if it
deserves to be mentioned, it is mentioned, but in order to get a star it is
going to take a bit of time for them to make sure it is at that level. Any
restaurant will have to prove that they deserve the award of getting a star.
Q: Can we assume there will be restaurants that lose stars in this edition,
and others who are possibly not in the guide anymore that were in the first
A: Yes, it’s the same as it is in Europe, every year the selection is
measured against last year, every restaurant is tested and some standard selections
got a different rating, and some didn’t. Some will be gone from the selection
either because the restaurant has been closed, or the chef has moved, or because
the quality of the food has declined. Others will be added because perhaps
in the first selection they deserved to be included but we didn’t put
them in it, and we found that the level of their cuisine deserved to be recognized
by the Michelin guide. Others are recently opened and therefore will not be
in the guide.
Q: Will the San Francisco guide be the same format, just a smaller amount
of restaurants in their guide, or the same as New York?
A: The same format, but a little smaller, the book will have 360 restaurants
all together (as opposed to 500 in New York), and about 60 hotels. It will
include the San Francisco Bay and the wine country.
We tried to find
out what cities Michelin’s inspectors will be sent
to next, or which restaurants might get stars in the new Bay Area guide or
the 2nd edition of the New York guide, but we could not penetrate Mr. Naret’s
wall of secrecy. We’ll try again next year, around this time.
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