Ostend restaurant leaves Michelin red faced
27 January 2005
BRUSSELS – The world-reputed Michelin restaurant guide has withdrawn its 2005 Benelux edition from shops after embarrassing revelations concerning an Ostend restaurant.
The French company was left with egg on its face when the Belgian daily Le Soir revealed the Ostend Queen had been strongly recommended in the guide without a single visit from a mystery critic.
In fact, the new restaurant owned by Fernand David had only opened on 8 January, when Michelin Benelux had already gone to press.
On Thursday, the company withdrew its 50,000 copies, just three days after they went to booksellers. In a statement, the company said the guide to restaurants in Belgium, as well as the Netherlands and Luxembourg, had been pulled “because it contains an error concerning the attribution of a Bib Gourmand”.
Michelin said it was the first time in its history that it had had to withdraw a guide and admitted its “quality process had not been respected”.
David’s restaurant, the newly renovated Kursaal, had been awarded “two forks” by the guide, as well as a Bib Gourmand, which means a Michelin critic, during a secret visit, has deemed it a place to eat a quality meal at a moderate price.
In this case, though, as David admitted to Le Soir, it was a Michelin executive that visited the restaurant thanks to contacts with the guide’s management.
Ostend Queen’s entry in the guide was also helped by the restaurant’s sponsor – Pierre Wynants, the three Michelin-starred chef of Comme Chez Soi in Brussels.
David told Le Soir: “Thanks to the good relations of Mr Wynants and myself with the management of the guide, they came to see us at Ostend on 1 November 2004 while the restaurant was still just a large building site, and we concluded an agreement to feature in the 2005 edition of the red guide and not to have to wait a year unnecessarily.”
The editor of Michelin Benelux, Alain Fremiot, justified what had happened saying the restaurant was backed by someone of the “international reputation” of Wynants and which clearly had a quality menu developed through Wynants’ help.
Michelin Belgium refused to comment on the matter, stating the decision to withdraw the edition was down to Michelin’s management.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news