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Nightline Tackles the Michelin Guide, Talks to an Inspector

Jean-Luc Naret and Bill Weir
Jean-Luc Naret and Bill Weir
Photo: ABC/Nightline

Tonight on Nightline: a segment about the Michelin Guide (barring breaking news like maybe the thundersnowpocalype). Journalist Bill Weir speaks to departing director Jean Luc Naret, chef Eric Ripert, and an anonymous inspector known only as "'M' the Inspector." They've sent us some excerpts of the conversations: Naret describes the biggest surprise of his job:

Part of the job I didn’t anticipate -- the controversy. The thing I really didn’t anticipate was the incredible love and hate affair that the chef has with the Michelin Guide. Because they have a lot of respect for it, because they know we’re doing our job really professionally and sometimes we can disagree and it really becomes a love and hate affair. Because they know that yes, we don’t have the stars but what should we do? Should we react about that or should we wait and do the job properly and wait until next year?

And then the anonymous Michelin inspector, hidden in a shadow, talks about how it's a "dream job." But there is one drawback: going to "tons" of restaurants and eating "a lot of crap" to winnow down the best:

Bill Weir: Ok, well it is a pleasure to meet you – what should I call you?
“M”, Michelin Inspector: M will work.
Bill Weir: M! This is fantastic it’s like interviewing a spy!
“M”: We say it’s a little like the CIA.
Bill Weir: How many times do you eat out a year?
“M”: I’ve never calculated – it’s at least 9 times a week.
Bill Weir: Wow. Some people might think: that sounds like heaven. (M: yeah) But what is it like really?
“M”: Well, I mean of course the job of a Michelin inspector is a dream job. We can’t complain. There are moments when you sit there and say ‘wow, I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this.’ But for every good meal you’ve had, you may have 4 or 5 bad meals because the Michelin Guide is a selection and we go to tons of restaurants that aren’t actually retained in the selection. We’re only retaining the best restaurants in each type, each category for our readers. So, we eat a lot of (pause) crap actually. I’ve eaten a fair amount of stuff that’s not so great to get this wonderful selection for our readers.
Bill Weir: Maybe that’s your new tagline: “Michelin – we eat crap so you don’t have to.” Maybe not. Not so elegant.

· Michelin Inspectors: Food Industry Spies [ABC]
· All Nightline Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Michelin Coverage on Eater [-E-]