Mistakes Made In Bestowing Culinary Honors

March 4, 2011

Most of us know that the food industry is extremely competitive, but the business of food awards takes competition to a whole new level. One of the most prestigious awards in the industry is a Michelin star. That honor goes to the best of all the restaurants in the world (guides are prepared for cities and countries individually, though). It's possible to receive up to three stars, which means that a special trip is warranted to go to the restaurant. Just having one star, though, is quite an accomplishment.

"I am very happy because this is the recognition that many chefs aspire to," chef Max Bichot told The Independent. His restaurant, Les Hêtres at Ingouville-sur-Mer, had just received its first Michelin star for the upcoming 2011 guide. Unfortunately for Bichot, and embarrassingly for Michelin, his restaurant closed in December due to a lack of customers. Bichot already sold the land, which is currently being redeveloped, so he cannot reopen the restaurant.

Though certainly making a lot of news, the mistake is hardly unprecedented in the food awards industry. Back in 2008, Robin Goldstein took three hours and invented a restaurant for Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence competition. He called it "Osteria L’Intrepido," submitted the $250 entrance fee, created "a fun amalgamation of somewhat bumbling nouvelle-Italian recipes" for a menu and submitted a wine list. Additionally, he bought a phone number in Milan (where he said the restaurant existed) and created a website.

If you look in the August 2008 edition of the magazine, you'll find Osteria L'Intepido listed as an award winner. Though most of the wine list was perfectly fine, the "reserve" section of it contained many of the worst-performing expensive wines, as evaluated by Wine Spectator. Goldstein believes this shows how little the magazine considered the application. Editors were naturally irate about Goldstein's creation and explained the efforts they had gone through to verify his information. Regardless of those efforts, it was still a pretty inexcusable mistake.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="346" caption="Max Bichot of the now closed Michelin star-winning restaurant"][/caption]

Photo from LePost