The German list of the 2023 Michelin Stars was released last night and I have to share some initial thoughts on the news:
I think it’s about time we all start caring a lot less about Michelin stars. I know, many of you couldn’t care less already, but you have to consider that the Guide is still widely regarded as the ultimate truth within fine dining, especially by tourists with a food interest. And as the Michelin Guide for Berlin continues to paint a very limited and one-sided picture of Berlin’s dining scene, many chefs are left estranged and alienated within a system that’s still painfully dependent on these very stars.
The one star rating in Germany is inflationary and stagnant at the same time. In the stars awarded for Berlin in 2023, as in every year since 2016, the Guide continues to see it as its mission to award unexpected restaurants Michelin stars and fool us all. Is this because they know better? Or because the German judges are stuck in some sort of diabolical loop, where only one kind of fine dining, the German adaptation of the Francophone, elaborately plated, late 90's multi-ingredient master plate, can be worthy of a Michelin star? And is it only coincidence that white, German-speaking male chefs continue to get stars, while chefs who cook outside the German paradigm of fine dining only get a fraction of the admiration they get from abroad and at home (by people who actually visit them)?
Taking away the one star status of Dalad Kambhu’s Thai restaurant Kin Dee is perhaps the most disturbing event of this year’s Guide. Note; this has nothing to do with the discussion whether or not Kin Dee deserved a star or not from the start. I’m talking about the act of 'downgrading' a restaurant that by all means is a better experience now (or at least as good) compared to when it was initially awarded a Star in 2019. It begs the question, was Michelin Guide ever really serious about awarding Kin Dee a Star? Or maybe, just maybe, was it too tempting to stick a woman of color into the group photo of 20 white male chefs on the Michelin Gala red carpet only to then have her frontline every press release that year? Chef Dalad and her team are without a doubt better off without their Star, but let’s not be quiet about this PR stunt.