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Restaurants

The Michelin Guide Dropped The Ball In Their Recognition of Los Angeles

“They really are going to have to eat their words if they want to come back and do it the right way in Los Angeles, and the truth is that they probably won’t.” Poignant commentary from Eater LA Senior Writer Farley Elliott regarding the Michelin Guide’s return to Los Angeles. He made these comments along with other critical insights on the guide in a recent appearance on the Foodbeast podcast, The Katchup, predicting how its renewed recognition of the Los Angeles dining scene would more than likely fall flat in representing the city appropriately.

“If they don’t put a San Gabriel Valley restaurant on there, if they don’t put a taco truck on there and give one of these places that are everyday dining options a star, people like you are just going to continue to laugh it off and rightfully so,” declared Elliott on the podcast. And you know what? Once I heard the results of the starred winners earlier this week, I did laugh, albeit ironically. Because as Farley predicted, the Michelin Guide did come back to Los Angeles and they did drop the ball on representing the city correctly.

Now this is no knock on the restaurants earning their deserved stars and Bib Gourmands, nor is it deflecting the recognition and merit. But the Michelin Guide really had an opportunity to highlight just how unique and diverse Los Angeles’ culinary landscape is these days, yet instead stuck to their antiquated model that favored European fine dining and expensive sushi restaurants. The high price points of the starred winners were — surprise, surprise — the commonality they had between them.

Perhaps it’s simply the Michelin Guide having to adjust and familiarize themselves with the sui generis dining nature of Angelenos. And judging by the disappointment the city’s major food media outlets expressed over the results, they’ll probably get the hint. Hopefully. Because when Angelenos look to dine out, some nights it will look like delicious Spanish fare at Otoño followed by boba in Koreatown then capped off with a late night snack at taco stands like Avenue 26. Other nights it will look like a posh tasting menu at Kato, which then wraps up at beloved taco truck Mariscos Jalisco. It’s L.A., we’re the masters of high-low.

Make no mistake, I’m encouraged that Los Angeles is recognized by an authority such as the Michelin Guide as a legit dining destination. But does it validate the city’s legitimacy as an exciting and bona fide food city? Not one bit. Yet, with the guide’s return comes added revenue and awareness, which I’m hopeful is a step in the right direction towards Thai restaurants, Filipino restaurants, Korean Restaurants and other deserving dining destinations that reflect how Angelenos dine regularly, being awarded appropriately in next year’s Michelin Guide for California.

 

For a full list of Michelin-starred winners in Los Angeles, they’re as follows:

ONE STAR RESTAURANTS

  • Bistro Na’s
  • CUT
  • Dialogue
  • Hayato
  • Kali
  • Kato
  • Le Comptoir
  • Maude
  • Mori Sushi
  • Nozawa Bar
  • Orsa & Winston
  • Osteria Mozza
  • Q Sushi
  • Rustic Canyon
  • Shibumi
  • Shin Sushi
  • Shunji
  • Trois Mec

TWO STAR RESTAURANTS

  • n/naka
  • Providence
  • Somni
  • Sushi Ginza Onodera
  • Urasawa
  • Vespertine

THREE STAR RESTAURANTS

(none)

 

Categories
Culture Features FOODBEAST Opinion The Katchup

Here Is How The Michelin Guide Can Make Angelenos Care About It

Earlier this year, the Michelin Guide, known by most foodies and insiders as the defining restaurant rating guide, made the announcement of its return to Los Angeles after a nine year hiatus in the city. At the time, former Michelin Guide director Jean-Luc Naret commented on the departure, “The people in Los Angeles are not real foodies. They are not too interested in eating well but just in who goes to which restaurant and where they sit.”

But times have changed since Naret’s verbal slap to Los Angeles, as it is now heralded as one of the most exciting food cities. Fast forward to now and you have Angelenos who are armed with adventurous and curious palates, all eager for a taste of authenticity and the previously unknown all at once. Such a groundswell of interest in cuisine has lead to a foodie movement in the city that’s been influenced by the culinary machine that is the Los Angeles of now. These days new restaurant concepts are fresh and exciting, chefs are emboldened to serve the food authentic to their personal experiences, and equal validity and fanfare is bestowed upon all kinds of eating establishments, whether it be a taco truck roving the streets or posted up outside a tire shop to fine dining restaurants that challenge diners’ tastes and invigorate inclinations.

With such a broad stroke of culinary offerings from all kinds, backgrounds, and formats coloring Los Angeles, is the typically stuffy, white table cloth-leaning, and archaic Michelin Guide even a good fit for the city? And frankly, should Angelenos even care?

The simple answer would be ‘no’, since the Michelin Guide outright called out LA diners and slandered the city on its way out. But being that Visit California has partnered up with the guide to come back to Los Angeles, it’s wise to consider the benefits that the added tourism and influx of dollars it could bring in. But beyond that, why else should the foodies of Los Angeles pay attention to the Michelin Guide?

Eater LA Senior Editor, Farley Elliott, helped answer that question on a recent appearance on Foodbeast’s The Katchup podcast.

“If they don’t put a San Gabriel Valley restaurant on there, if they don’t put a taco truck on there and give one of these places that are everyday dining options a star, people like you are just going to continue to laugh it off and rightfully so.”

Sure, the Michelin Guide has long been the culinary standard of excellence, but what it fails to do in tandem with its longevity is adapt to modern culinary norms. The rigidity in its preference for tasting menu, white tablecloth, European fine dining establishments reflects on a draconian and frankly problematic formula for its lack of inclusion of restaurants outside of such narrow standards.

But here in Los Angeles, the Michelin Guide has a chance to address such criticisms by taking the city for what it is. “Glendale is so different than Venice, it’s so different than Frogtown, and Silver Lake, and Downtown or the Arts District. So [the Michelin Guide] has got to be willing to meet these places where they’re at and understand and respect that obviously what they’re doing is working for the average diner.”

So until the Michelin Guide can start recognizing the Mini Kabobs and Sun Nong Dans of Los Angeles, places where they reflect the everyday dining habits of most folks, then the majority of Angelenos will simply not care or give credence to the merit of it at all.

 

Feature Photo: Steve Lyon