A small cafe in the central French town of Bourges (population 66,786) has unwittingly earned its 15 minutes of fame thanks to an error: Michelin, the tire company that publishes highly influential restaurant guides, mistakenly awarded a restaurant called Bouche à Oreille — “word of mouth” — a Michelin star last week.
The mistake is understandable: Véronique Jacquet’s Bouche à Oreille is on route de la Chapelle in Bourges, which is a two-hour drive south of another Bouche à Oreille in the town of Boutervilliers — on a rue de la Chapelle. When Jacquet heard on the radio that her humble restaurant had been given a Michelin star, she knew something was amiss.
“I laughed out loud,” Jacquet told the New York Times. “It was impossible that this could happen to me. I run a small working-class brasserie, nothing to do with a gourmet restaurant.” She told le Figaro (translated): "The spirit here is that the door is open to everyone. We cook home-style food for everyone."
Jacquet’s bistro and brasserie has just 20 tables and one employee, and serves lunch only. The simple three-course menu costs $13.25 (12.50 euros) per person. Conversely, the Michelin guide is known for awarding stars to (mostly) white tablecloth establishments where a chef presides over an elaborate multi-course menu and cooks toil over detailed and minute preparations of meat, fish, vegetables, and dessert.
The other Bouche à Oreille, owned by chef Aymeric Dreux, received its first Michelin star in 2015 and was the actual recipient of this year’s star. Its decor, menu, and style of service fit the description of a Michelin-starred property. At Dreux’s place, main courses start at $29.75 (about 28 euros).
Friends and family, upon hearing the news, called Dreux to ask if he had opened a second location in Bourges; he was just as confused until Michelin called to explain the error. The guide announced the correct Bouche à Oreille on Twitter last week:
A Michelin spokesperson told the Times, “To err is human. The most important thing for us is that neither restaurant was negatively affected.”
The company also released a statement to Eater:
An error was posted on Michelin's interactive map of restaurants in France following the launch of the new Michelin Guide for France. The online error was quickly corrected and does not appear in the print edition.
Michelin has apologized directly to each of the chefs involved. Of course the Company regrets the mistake, but it's important to emphasize that neither restaurant was negatively impacted.
• Michelin Mix-Up Throws a Working-Class Bistro Into a Media Storm [NYT]
• France’s 2017 Michelin Stars Are Here [E]
• À Bourges, un bistrot de quartier est primé par erreur par le Guide Michelin [Figaro]