With the announcement that Michelin are to delay the release of their guide, the question has to be asked what relevance, if any, the industry guides and related publications now have.
With the decimation of the hospitality industry, chefs and restaurants have enough to deal with in terms of continuing to exist, never mind trying to satisfy the inspectors and editors. The esteemed Michelin guide publishers have recognised the challenges being faced across the sector and claim that January’s event will reflect this, Michelin have announced: “Moving the publication and launch from our usual October date will not only allow time for the hospitality industry to get back on its feet, but will also let us prepare a full and comprehensive guide for our readers”.
The digital only guide is looking to support the resilience and potential with the industry by showcasing restaurants to hundreds of thousands of people across their channels. Whilst such support should be applauded we wanted to know what those within hospitality thought. This and other issues will be discussed at our live Q&A on the 21st September but we took the opportunity to speak to some of those concerned prior to the announcement. See below.
Simon Hulstone, chef at the acclaimed ‘The Elephant’ in Torquay, recently commented that it should have continued as before to maintain some consistency. Such a sentiment was echoed by Peta Darnley, owner of Michelin starred Pensons Restaurant, located at the Netherwood Estate in Worcestershire who said,“We appreciate that this has been a difficult period for these guides too and it is a difficult decision for them with so many Michelin restaurants yet to re-open, especially in London. However, they also have a role to support the sector and encourage people to eat out (safely), so it would be good to see them publicising deserving restaurants in some way”
Andreas Antona of Simpsons in Birmingham, who also presides over accredited The Cross in Kenilworth takes a different view. “The hospitality industry is at a crossroads. It seems we all have an opportunity and need to reflect and reset how we operate to survive. Maybe its also a good time to see if the guides can work with the industry, to help re-shape a more diverse and adaptive future?” adding “Continuing to focus on quality and consistency, but also mindful of the changing needs of the consumer and wider environment is important to maintain standards and focus. Change is constant, but our industry also needs wider support to change to ensure its survival and on-going success”
Recovering from the supposed first wave of COVID almost serves as a prelude to what is still to come. Recession, Brexit, localised or widespread lockdowns, a second wave, all make the future so uncertain that is it plausible to be thinking of the Michelin and any other guide? Andreas added, “We should all be coming together and focussing on making our businesses better, fighting and coming back stronger than ever before. We all need to up our game.”
The Michelin Guide has been a benchmark for quality dining since 1900. The last time they had to halt production was for World Wars. It’s taken COVID-19 to halt production once more it seems.
Michelin themselves agree that the future may look different but their goal remains constant: ‘To connect customers to the best restaurants around the country, whatever the occasion and, in their words, to celebrate this most magnificent of industries – one that brings so much joy to so many.’
Founder of greatestbritish.org and Love British Food Ambassador, James Day commented, “Publishing has suffered greatly this year alongside many industries due to COVID. Guides are not alone in having to re-invent themselves, as have many restaurants. Many food guides around the World understandably have already pushed publication back a year. Michelin’s decision to delay and go digital for 2021 is again fully understandable, however bearing in mind the upheaval that their subjects are undertaking, many of which may not exist in their current form, or even at all by January, does raise the question of the timing. I am sure Michelin will celebrate, motivate and focus the industry as they always do, but how the industry will look, and consumers receive it is yet to be seen. The future is certainly going to look and have to operate differently from the past”
Andy Hayler, prolific food reviewer and diner at many of the Michelin accredited restaurants around the World, featured on his blog andyhayler.com added “Michelin represents a view on the hospitality industry, so like that industry they need to adapt to the pandemic. Delaying the publication by a few months seems a sensible step to me, in order to give enough time to properly assess restaurants. Perhaps their assessments will include some acknowledgement of how ‘Covid secure’ the various restaurants featured have made themselves.”
What do you think?
The publication of the Michelin Guide, the post COVID future of the hospitality industry, are just some of the subjects we will be discussing during our live Q&A on the 21st September:
Britain’s Hospitality Industry Future: Guides. People. Marketing.
• Andreas Antona – Michelin Chef Ambassador Simpsons, The Cross.
• Chef John Williams. Michelin Star Executive Chefs, The Ritz Hotel, London.
• Andy Hayler. Independent food reviewer and founder www.andyhayler.com
• Matt Davies. Chairman of The British Culinary Federation. Chef. Fund Raiser.
• Neil Davey. Food & Drink Journalists World Wide incl Foodism. Nation Geographic.
• James Day. Hospitality Marketing & Customer Experience Specialist. British Food Ambassador.
More to be announced.
Compered by Adam Whittaker.
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