Michelin published their "Main Cities of Europe" guide this week, and what’s got the food bloggerati buzzing is the French company’s refusal, yet again, to award three stars to Noma in Copenhagen. Are they trying to be contrarians? Are they just old fuddy-duddies? Or is this their way of telling chef René Redzepi he needs to stay at home more, or at least train his staff to function just as well when he’s making various public appearances around the globe?
Last year, of course, Noma ranked No. 1 on S. Pellegrino’s annual list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants — another ranked list we can’t wholly endorse, but it is what it is. Michelin, on the other hand, revisited Noma an undisclosed number of times last year and insists "it still has a long way to go." Then they offer a totally contradictory explanation, first saying, "It’s not a question of consistency," and, "René’s always in his kitchen," but also saying, "We recognize that chefs need to publish books and do other things," and adding, "no restaurant at this level can rely on one person’s talent." So if we’re to read between the lines here — the way we have to when our mothers e-mail us — they seem to be saying that René’s not always in his kitchen, and things suffer when he’s gone.
We can count at least a few weeks that he was gone last year, on tour in Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. promoting his cookbook. So take this as a warning, Achatz! Your staff back in Chicago better be on top of their game while you’re bouncing around promoting your memoir, or Michelin’s minions will strip you of that third star faster than you can say Next.