Behold the Michelin

Growing up, two things came to mind when I heard the name, “Michelin“. One was tires. The other was that fat marshmallow man that they used for their uh… mascot or whatever you want to call him. It wasn’t until the last two years that the name, Michelin means so much more.
For one thing, it’s French. For another, they make a massive series of restaurant guides that are, from all accounts, considered to be the finest there are. Inclusion or exclusion from their guides can mean feast or famine for a restaurant because so many people take them to be the bible of fine dining.
So it was that last year, their first guides entered the US with New York City and San Francisco being their entries in to the market. I didn’t get to read the 2007 guide, but took more of an interest this year as they’re introducing Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Also, the director, Jean-Paul Naret was at a local bookstore to promote it a bit. So, I went down to see it.
The event itself was more than a little frustrating. Even though Jean-Luc was there before it was supposed to start at 6, the event actually started at 6:30. While this is not enjoyable, it forced me to be privy to a quartet of gay guys sitting behind me letting loose an endless, driveling stream of auditory diarrhea. Thankfully the event did eventually start, as I can only take so much of, “And so, like, for Thanksgiving, maybe London is that, you know, or perhaps I was thinking Moroccan tonight, but it’s too spicy, so, like maybe it’s just that we should drive up to Napa tonight…” Seriously, I kid you not.
But, listening to Jean-Paul Naret was amusing. He’s a very charismatic fellow and very, very French. With him, for some reason they had Marcia Gagliardi of Table Hopper there to talk as well. She’s a nice girl and likes her food, but her and Jean-Luc are in such different leagues that it would be akin to the president of the neighborhood watch and the president of the US talking on the same panel. Although, this is something of a misnomer, since I don’t want to compare Jean-Luc to our current monkey at the desk.
The questions were okay from the crowd. There was one point when one of the boys in the quartet naturally had to ask make the accusation that the Michelin Guides are biased because they don’t seem to grace any Asian restaurants with three stars. Jean-Luc deftly answered that they’re not biased, they just haven’t found one yet and that Masa in SF is a Japanese restaurant that is two stars.
Of course I bought a copy and now that I have the book, I want to eat everywhere that’s in it. Chez Panisse is looking quite good…
Behold the Michelin