The Michelin guide, Singapore edition 

So it has finally launched, after creating a huge buzz in the F&B scene here,  after everyone has casted their own opinions about the guide, it’s choices for bib gourmand, and it’s stars, what is left after all the dust has settled? Has our food scene gotten better? Will it grow?

I see the necessity for guides, I really do. I use them, and also tourists like me who are too lazy to do the groundwork on the fine dining scene, the Michelin guide gives a good overview of the scene in general. The guide in itself is fundamentally good as well, if you had a guide that everyone respects, chefs would work their asses off to get on the list, because that would be the ultimate validation for any chef, to know that beyond the numbers on an asset sheet or your reservation book, that your food, and restaurant is truly amazing. And yet, this is not the Michelin guide we have

Granted that food is incredibly subjective and thus divides opinions in general, the only rallying fact about last nights list is that- there are some very questionable restaurants on the list. Whether you choose to believe that they bought their way in- ‘sponsorships’, I think they call it, I think it is quite disappointing that this is the biggest takeaway from it all. 

There are some that absolutely deserve to be on the list, and some that I personally believe are a fair assessment as well when I compare it to my experience with the stars in America, Europe, and Tokyo. These entries I believe are spot on, and yet, when I look at the list of other restaurants within the same category, and I look at restaurants in the 2 star category, I’m thinking, surely this can’t be right. People will benchmark the stars against each other, let’s not even talk about Singaporean stars vs overseas stars, within our local list of stars, the discrepancies are huge. 

And then of course, when you look at the list and the restaurants from resorts world sentosa, you question how many of them are on the list because they deserve it. The very nature of Michelin is compromised when you are taking sponsorships from groups that own restaurants, as a guide that claims to give truly impartial reviews, that is the exact definition of a conflict of interest. And this not only diminishes the integrity of the guide as a whole, it diminishes the hard work that is put in by restaurants who really earned their star out of their own merit

So what is left after all the dust has settled? There is a huge buzz, and I’m sure everyone involved with this is patting themselves on the back. But most of what I hear on the ground are the same negative things- that restaurant doesn’t deserve be to be on the list, that restaurant bought their way onto the list, the guide is awful etc. Not just by consumers, but even by chefs- ‘THAT restaurant got a star?’ 

This just sounds like a toxic environment to me, even before the guide was out, I’ve always felt that chefs in Singapore seldom work together, it’s always a (not so friendly) competition between them, and with the guide, it looks to only worsen the situation. 

It had so much potential to do good, yet the list looks like it is veering towards what the Hong Kong guide has become, something you cannot ignore it as a chef/restaurant owner, and yet when you do have your stars, the rest of the world knows that the guide is completely unreliable when compared to the rest of the world. But I guess that is the power of the Michelin guide, everyone may laugh at it on the outside, but on the inside you’re singing and dancing to the tune that Michelin plays, simply because you cannot afford not to 

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