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Big Red Lands: On Whether or Not to Care About Michelin

And so, just as God is said to have given Moses the 10 Commandments atop Mt. Sinai, The Magrino Agency has bestowed upon us the results of Michelin's first foray into New York and the United States, the so-hot-it-is-actually-the-color-of-fire Michelin Red Guide NYC. In a virtual instant, such divergent places as Gawker and eGullet got caught up in the blaze. Already, third graders on the upper east side are at work memorizing the three starrers. "Per Se, Le Bernardin, Alain Ducasse, and Jean-Georges. Per Se, Le Bernardin, Alain Ducasse, and Jean-Georges. Per Se, Le Bernardin, Alain Ducasse, and Jean-Georges. Per Se, Le Bernardin, Alain Ducasse, and Jean-Georges."

The question of whether or not you will actually be able to get your hands on one of these books does exist*; the bigger question, however, is will the good Red Book tell you anything you don't know or want to know? And now, for our meticulous mining the official press release on the matter for answers.

Consider the following, per said release (provided in its entirety below, if you want to read to yourself as we read aloud):

1. "Stars are awarded by the Michelin inspectors to restaurants offering the finest cooking, regardless of the style of cuisine and the level of comfort." So that if and when the book proves to be overwhelmingly soft on French venues, you are to treat this circumstance as a mere coincidence.

2. "'The arrival of the Michelin Guide will enable visitors, as well as New Yorkers, to enjoy this wonderful city to the fullest,' according to Jim Micali, chairman and president of Michelin North America, Inc...507 restaurants throughout the five boroughs were included in the Guide." By our calculations, that number represents 2.2% of the 23,000 total restaurants in New York City. Did the modest Michelin judges run some complicated algorithm to determine what 'to the fullest' equates to? Not in the release, but perhaps of relevance here is the statistic that holds that humans only actually utilize 10% of their brain's potential.

3. "Four restaurants received the elusive three-star rating: Per Se, Le Bernardin, Alain Ducasse, and Jean-Georges." Well now. Talk about critical trail blazing. The smart money in Bangladesh was on those venues. The biggest shocker, of course, is that they're all French, which simply dashes the long-held belief that Michelin is, really all Frenchmen are, too provincial for its own good. (Fine, Keller isn't technically French. But with all that fussy tableware, he may as well be.)

4. Now, about these stars. * * *: "an exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey"; * *: "excellent cooking, worth a detour" (there are also four); *: "a very good restaurant in its category" (there are 31). With 37 stars located in Manhattan, pray tell: what hidden corner of the island qualifies as "a special journey" or "worth the detour"? An elevator ride to the 3rd floor of the mall perhaps?

5. "Cuisine categories offered in the Michelin Guide New York City 2006 are:...French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Gastropub, Spani--" Now wait just a second. Since when is "gastropub" a "cuisine?" Since the Spotted Pig got one-starred, that's when.

6. "The Michelin Guide New York City 2006 offers a broad selection of more than...50 Hotels..." Anyone give a fuck about this part?

All in all, we don't care. But maybe you do. Maybe you've seen what it takes to become a Michelin inspector and you're still curious about the book itself. Maybe the book's reputation has got the best of you. So coming up next, we look at Michelin winners and Michelin losers.
· Michelin Selects Best Restaurant and Hotels in NYC [SMAPR official release]

· Michelin stars: Full New York List [Financial Times]
· The stars of the Michelin Guide [Snack]

*If you're not going to the release party TOMORROW at the Guggenheim, that is. Also, Dunhill will be selling a limited-edition leather-bound version just-in-time-for-the-holiday-season, which should be the stocking stuffer of choice for the uptown daddy set.

By Eater press release analyst, The PR Gal.