This year’s Michelin guide to California restaurants will be based on information from before the pandemic
Food focused brows went up last week, when the news broke that inspectors with Michelin North America — the influential tire company restaurant guide with a starring system that can make or break a fine dining establishment — were paying visits to evaluate New York restaurants despite the region’s indoor dining ban. A spokesperson with the organization tells the SF Chronicle that restaurants in the Bay Area shouldn’t expect similar visits during these troubled times, though, as this year’s guide to California will only use intelligence gathered before the coronavirus crisis began.
“Inspectors have resumed restaurant visits in some areas, including establishments in the New York selection,” a Michelin spokesperson confirmed with Eater New York. While that guide’s been in publication since 2006, the company’s guide to the entire state of California is far younger, launching its first edition in June of 2019. (Prior to that, the guide was a Bay Area, only, affair.)
There wasn’t a 2020 California guide released this past June, however, and the spokesperson who talked with the Chron declined to say when this year’s guide would be published. They did, however, confirm that a 2020 edition of the Golden State guide would indeed be released, saying that California inspectors had wrapped up their fieldwork before the shutdown went down in March. It’s that information, the spokesperson says, that will be used to compile the 2020 guide.
A comparison between Eater’s guide to 2019’s Michelin-starred restaurants and our current guide to which starred restaurants remain open vividly illustrates why that seems like such a surprising decision: Out of the 60-plus starred spots in business prior to the pandemic, only 36 are currently open. Almost all of those 36 have dramatically changed their menus to reflect the current, more casual, age of takeout and delivery.
The decision will doubtless be a confusing one for food fans who base their dining decision on the guide. It will be interesting to see who bears the brunt of those dismayed patrons’ ire: The restaurants, or the trusted guide that presented them with information gathered from before the world changed, but published well after.
And in other news...
- Livermore is the first place in Alameda County to enact fines for people who don’t wear face coverings, but so far, they haven’t set up financial punishments for restaurants that fail to enforce health orders. [East Bay Times]
- Meanwhile, in Marin County, its mask law tipline is flooded with reports, including “more than two dozen complaints about restaurants and five about grocery stores.” [Marin Independent-Journal]
- This weekend’s heat wave tanked business at inland restaurants’ outdoor dining areas. [KPIX]
- After 36 years working at Potrero Hill brewery Anchor Stream, area native Thomas Riley has been named its brewmaster, taking over from Scott Ungermann, who held the job for the last six years. [SF Gate]
- David Kinch, the influential Bay Area chef behind lauded Los Gatos restaurant Manresa (among others), announced via Instagram that he doesn’t want to be considered for a James Beard award this year. He and Benu’s Corey Lee are the only Bay Area contenders for the national award of “Outstanding Chef,” a slate that also includes Donald Link (Herbsaint, New Orleans), Missy Robbins (Lilia, NYC), Ana Sortun (Oleana, Cambridge, MA), and Marc Vetri (Vetri Cucina, Philadelphia.) “The idea of celebrating achievement...simply does not feel right in the midst of the ongoing pandemic,” he said. [Instagram/David Kinch]