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April 18, 2024 28 mins

Whether you're trying to spot a Michelin critic in the wild, or you're on the hunt for the world's best reindeer tartar with moss and fermented mushroom (a very common thing listeners ask us about), we've got you covered. From Katy Perry's Michelin mishap, to chefs trying to sue the guide because they want more stars, to the bizarre reason the Michelin Man prefers to pair his meals with a goblet full of nails, we've prepared a piping hot plate of facts for you. (Go ahead and tuck in!)  

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:03):
You're listening to Part Time Genius, the production of Kaleidoscope
and iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
Guess what mango was that?

Speaker 1 (00:13):

Speaker 2 (00:13):
All right, well, I know you're a huge Katy Perry fan.

Speaker 3 (00:15):
Right, Well not really.

Speaker 2 (00:17):
Well, you're at least familiar with the twenty seventeen songs
she did with Migos called Bone Appetite, right like big One. No, real,
this is it. We may need to do a different episode.
That's fine. I know it's no firework. But the whole
song is basically this extended metaphor. You didn't know she
was into this, right, extended metaphors where Katy Perry is
describing herself as a delicious meal in lots of creative ways,

and at one point in the song, she says, I'm
a five star Michelin, a five star Micheline Mengo.

Speaker 1 (00:47):
Five stars is really confident.

Speaker 2 (00:50):
No, it's not confident. It's ridiculous because the Micheline star
rating only goes up to three stars. And poor Katy
Perry actually didn't realize that sousicians don't fact check their songs.
I know, it's very very disappointing.

Speaker 1 (01:04):
So wait, well, why does Michelin only use three stars
and not like five or ten.

Speaker 2 (01:08):
Well, the Michelin Star system is full of all kinds
of arbitrary, opaque, and frankly mystifying rules, and it's kind
of its whole thing. That's why they do this, and
that's what we're getting into in this episode.

Speaker 1 (01:20):
Or in the words of Katy Perry Bone Petite.

Speaker 3 (01:22):
I knew you were a big fan.

Speaker 2 (01:45):
Welcome back to Part Time Genius. I'm will and as always,
I'm here with my good friend Mango, and somewhere behind
that big booth is our pal Dylan, who I think
is trolling us because he's decorated that booth with all
these posters of the see I think I see the
Pillsbury dough Boy, the Staypuff marshmallow Man, even that character
from what was it, Big Hero six, Big Hero six?

Speaker 1 (02:05):
Pretty It is definitely trolling us because he's got every
other white puffy character from pop culture except the Michelin Man. Also,
where did he get so many Pilsburg Dobles.

Speaker 2 (02:18):
He's impressive. He's very into like the you know, finding
the sales.

Speaker 1 (02:21):
Yeah, that's probably where he really goes all out.

Speaker 2 (02:23):
Well, I'm really excited to be doing this show together,
but I'm curious what made you think to do this
episode on Michelin Stars.

Speaker 1 (02:29):
So I watched this Bradley Cooper movie on a flight.

Speaker 3 (02:32):
It's called Burnt.

Speaker 1 (02:32):
You've seen it, And there's this whole thing where they're
talking about how to spot these like elite reviewers from
Michelin whatever, and they come in pairs and order in
specific ways, and I kind of want to see how
much of.

Speaker 2 (02:42):
That was true. So that was part of it.

Speaker 1 (02:44):
Plus, I know your parents are foodies and they used
to have all those menus on their porch from restaurants.

Speaker 2 (02:48):
I willed it.

Speaker 1 (02:49):
Yeah, And I just thought it to be a fun topic.

Speaker 2 (02:51):
Yeah, I'm excited to dive in. So why don't we
go back to the beginning just to think about where
the name comes from. So basically, we're going way back
to eighteen eighty nine and Michelin started out as a
tire manufacturing company, which I think a lot of people know,
but it was the brothers Andre and Eduard Michelin, and
they took over their grandfather's struggling manufacturing business and they

started producing tires and they were really clever, so they
pat into this removable pneumatic bike tire. They invented the
first automobile tire, and they even made rubber train.

Speaker 1 (03:21):
Tires, tires for trains.

Speaker 2 (03:24):
That's supposedly why the Paris Metro used to be so quiet.
I'd never heard of this before, but just then, looking
to this, it's pretty neat and it doesn't screech like
New York's. But anyway, in eighteen eighty nine, Michelin debuts
their puffy mascot, the Michelin Man. Way back in eighteen
eighty nine.

Speaker 1 (03:39):
Yeah, as Dylan pointed out, looks a whole lot like
the stay Puffed guy from Ghostbusters.

Speaker 2 (03:43):
Yep, except he's not made of marshmallows. He's actually made
of tires. And apparently Michelin tires used to be white.
And one day Eduard looked at this pile of tires
and he was like, hey, Andre, if that pile of
tires had arms, it will look like a man. So yeah,
that's that's how this stuff comes to life.

Speaker 1 (04:01):
Yeah, I mean, I guess anything's a mascot if you
put arms on it.

Speaker 2 (04:05):
And they had this kind of funny concept for it.
They named their tire man Bibindam because that comes from
the Latin phrase nunc s bibindum which means now is
the time to drink. Because in these earliest ads, if
you look at them, he's actually holding up this goblet
of nails and broken glass, because the whole concept was
they wanted to show that michelin tires were unfazed by

obstacles on the road.

Speaker 1 (04:28):
So in this super weird scenario, he's drinking nails and
broken glass.

Speaker 2 (04:32):
Yes, the tire man, that's what it is.

Speaker 1 (04:34):
Okay, So Michelin man is like this well fed, indestructible
bon Vivonne, the kind of guy who can eatn drink
all day and night and just keep going.

Speaker 2 (04:42):
It's such as it's impressive. Yeah, it's a very French
illustration of longevity. So anyway, in nineteen hundred, Michelin begins
publishing these free travel guides to France and eventually they
make guides for other parts of Europe. And it's a
pretty smart play because Michelin's basically acting like tourism pioneers,
so they're encouraging ordinary people to take longer and longer

road trips. As you know, of course, helps boost hire sales,
and from the beginning of these tourism road trip guys
included restaurant recommendations.

Speaker 1 (05:11):
So I guess these early French travelers weren't like eating
handfuls of Twizzlers or beef jerky on they.

Speaker 2 (05:17):
Really missing out, really really missing out. And Michelin was
smart about their review system too. The reviews were always
conducted anonymously, and so this gave Micheline this extra layer
of credibility with customers. They weren't just handing out good
reviews to friends. Then you fast forward to nineteen twenty
six when the stars first began appearing. So this is
a quarter of a century later, but at that time

they're all awarded to restaurants in France, and so initially
they were just starred and non starred restaurants. But then
in the nineteen thirties, Michelin created the three star system
that remains in place today.

Speaker 1 (05:51):
So there's no real reason that's three stars.

Speaker 2 (05:53):
They just kind of decided that. I mean, they're French,
so they have to do something. It's a little different.
I don't know if you've ever been to a Michelin
star restaurant, Mango a one or two or I got
a three Mango.

Speaker 1 (06:03):
Listen, Milo's a three star restaurant.

Speaker 2 (06:07):
The fast food burger joint. I think it was two stars,
and still they started putting that extra nub of meat
on the paddy. It's just a little bonus nub, and
then that got them to three. No, actually I don't
think they have any stars mego.

Speaker 1 (06:20):
So I think what's funny about the whole Michelin Star
thing is how vague the distinctions are between sort of
the one, two and three star establishments.

Speaker 2 (06:28):
What do you mean by that?

Speaker 1 (06:29):
So apparently one Michelin Star is award to restaurants using
top quality ingredients, where dishes with these distinct flavors are
prepared to a consistently high standard.

Speaker 2 (06:39):
Yeah that sounds good.

Speaker 1 (06:40):
Yeah, it totally sounds good. And then two Michelin Stars
are awarded when the personality and talent of the chef
are evident in these expertly crafted dishes and their food
is refined and inspired.

Speaker 2 (06:50):
M hm also sounds good, m H.

Speaker 1 (06:53):
And three Michelin Stars, the highest award, is given for
the superlative cooking of chefs at the peak of their profession.
The cooking is to an art form, and some of
their dishes are destined to become classics.

Speaker 2 (07:03):
That also sounds good. Mengo like system that's the things.

Speaker 1 (07:06):
They all sound good, I mean, and they also kind
of sound the same, right, like like one star is good,
two stars is more good, and three stars is just
like more and more good.

Speaker 2 (07:15):
Seriously, it's good.

Speaker 1 (07:16):
Yeah, So how do you eat a meal and decide
that the food is refined and inspired versus you know,
a meal that's an art form, right? How do they
even make these judgments?

Speaker 2 (07:25):
Well, I'm glad you asked that, mango.

Speaker 1 (07:27):
Yeah, it's almost like I set you off.

Speaker 2 (07:29):
So the judging is done by anonymous Michelin inspectors, all
of whom work full time and have prior restaurant and
hospitality experience. Multiple inspectors dine at a restaurant under consideration
and then they talk about these ratings together, so it's
not just one person that's passing judgment on a place
after a single meal. Inspectors visit multiple times for different

meals with the goal of experiencing the full range of
the menu. So it's a really thorough process. And Michigan
claims there is quote no seqk mathematical formula and that
decor degree of formality, type of cuisine, like all of
that that they really don't matter, of course, there are
five specific criteria the judges used to award stars. So

here they are. The first is quality of the ingredients,
The second is the harmony of flavors. Then you have
the mastery of culinary techniques. Fourth is the personality of
the chef is expressed through their cuisine. And then the
fifth is consistency of the above but across the entire
menu and over time. And it's worth mentioning there's also

this thing called the bib Gourmand designation and it's given
to the most affordable restaurants that offer high value for
the money. And I have wondered this before, because you'll
notice this in cities. Sometimes it'll be like a diner
or something like that that'll end up with a Michelin Star.
I do think that's pretty cool to think they think
about it this way. But all of this judging has
done completely anonymously, and that just actually seems crazy to me, Like,

I don't understand how these inspectors could keep their identity
a secret if they're hopping around to all the world's
best restaurants multiple times a year.

Speaker 1 (09:06):
Yeah, and that's exactly the part I wanted to dig into.
So why don't we tackle that after a break sounds good.

Speaker 2 (09:26):
Welcome back to part time Genius, where we're talking about
Michelin stars and why chefs are so darn thirsty for them. So, Magel,
I think you were just about to tell us how
the food criticism at Michelin works.

Speaker 1 (09:38):
That's right. So in two thousand and nine, The New
Yorker published this profile of a New York inspector and
it's super fun and cloak and dagger. The inspector's pseudonym
was Maxine, and the first really interesting thing is that
she said, most Michelin executives don't even know who the
inspectors are.

Speaker 2 (09:55):
Oh wow.

Speaker 1 (09:55):
In fact, inspectors are told to keep their work secret
from their friends and even from their parents.

Speaker 2 (10:00):
I have to be honest, I don't think I could
keep that secret from my parents.

Speaker 1 (10:04):
Yeah, I know. I feel like Bill and Paulette would
definitely be dining with you and bringing everyone boxes of
fancy leftovers. But Maxine revealed that she ate restaurant meals
about two hundred days per year, dinner and lunch, and
almost always alone, because inspectors really can't risk being identified
through conversations at the table.

Speaker 2 (10:22):
I love eating out, and I love eating out at
good restaurants, but two hundred days a year I have to,
and especially like by yourself most of the time. That
kind of seems like torture.

Speaker 1 (10:32):
I know. It's almost like work travel, Like as a kid,
you think it's going to be so exciting, like on
the road in hotels and stuff, and then you do
it for a few months and it kind of loses
the charm. But at Michelin, the system is almost set
up like this secret service. So Maxine said when she
was being considered for the job, she had to eat
several meals under supervision of inspectors who operated like spies.

And this is her quote. You never know the name
of the person you're meeting, You never know where their
meeting until right before, so they call you up and
say meet me at the corner of XYZ and xyz.

Speaker 2 (11:06):
So dramatic, like you kind of forget for a second
we're talking about food, like it seems like a national
security thing, but it's really like who has the best
pork belly.

Speaker 1 (11:15):
Yeah, And aspiring inspectors also have to attend a secret
Michelin training course in France and then they have to
complete all this additional still anonymous training in another country,
and then they do a three to six month still
very anonymous apprenticeship with a more senior inspector. So another
anonymous inspector from a twenty seventeen Food and Wine article

did shed a little bit of light on what happens here.
He said, we always order three courses, an appetizer and
entree and dessert, and we try to pick items that
are the best representation of the menu concept or chef's talents.
But of course, despite Michelin's best efforts, in December two
thousand and three, there was this big tell all.

Speaker 2 (11:54):
I was hoping you would get to a tell all.

Speaker 1 (11:56):
Yeah, you kind of have to hope for it. So
this book comes out from this inspector in Pascal Remy,
who was fired after revealing that he'd kept a diary
of his career, and he planned to publish this book.
And so the book is called The Inspector Sits Down
at the Table, and it was published in France in
April two thousand and four, and it caused a huge stir.
One journalist from France called it a storm and a

saucepan A storm.

Speaker 2 (12:20):
I kind of love that.

Speaker 1 (12:21):
Yeah, it's great, right, it's also a good description of Ruby.
But Remy alleged some pretty wild stuff in this book,
all of which Michelin disputes. He said that despite publishing
new guides with updated ratings every year, Michelin didn't actually
visit or revisit every restaurant annually, which is a huge
scandal right in part because there aren't enough inspectors. Remy

wrote that there were only five inspectors in all of
France as of two thousand and three when he was writing,
which is not nearly enough to cover the country's ten
thousand restaurants. He also said there's some three star restaurants
which were secretly deemed untouchable, so like, under no circumstance
could they lose their talpeting. Even though Remi claimed more
than a third of the guide's three star rated establishments

didn't actually meet the three star criteria.

Speaker 2 (13:07):
I feel like that's a really bad look for a
rating system that's supposed to be, you know, super objective
and impartial for this whole history of its existence. But
when you have something like a Michelin star that sought
after and means so much to these restaurants, there's definitely
going to be some fallout from this.

Speaker 1 (13:24):
So what are you thinking about right now?

Speaker 2 (13:26):
Well, for example, obviously, getting a Michelin star can catapult
a restaurant into fame in many cases bring these huge profits.
But losing a star, and I had not really thought
about this before, but it can bring just the opposite
of that effect. So Thornton's at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, a
high end Dublin restaurant, lost its Michelin star back in
twenty fifteen, and it maintained this star for two decades,

and when it did, profits dropped by seventy six percent
by the end of twenty sixteen. Yeah, and actually the
place ended up having to close after that. And as
the chef, Kevin Thornton told The Irish Independent, losing the
star felt like quote getting stabbed in the heart. I mean,
it means so much to these people. In fact, one chef,
Bernard Lazeau, was so terrified of losing his three Micheline

stars that it may have actually contributed to his two
thousand and three suicide.

Speaker 1 (14:19):
That's really terrible.

Speaker 2 (14:20):
Yeah, it really is. I mean he'd been running this
Burgundy restaurant called Lecouteur, where he had actually gotten a
third Michelin Star in nineteen ninety one, but in two
thousand and three, this French newspaper Le Figaro published this
rumor and claimed that he was slated to lose his
third star, and his widow told The Observer that the
rumor had a real impact on her husband because he

feared that losing a star would have these devastating financial consequences.
But one of the saddest parts of the story is
after his death, the two thousand and three Michelin Guide
gave the restaurant its usual three stars. That is so sad,
it really is. But it's not just losing a star
that can have negative consequences for a restaurant. Even getting

a star can throw a place into turmoil. So it's
an example of that. After being listed in the twenty
sixteen Hong Kong Guide, there was this dessert shop called
Kai Kai Dessert that was forced to move because its
landlord got greedy and thinking that it would bring this
new spike in business, he raised the rent by one
hundred and twenty percent, which is awful. Yeah, and the

owners did get lucky though there was this loyal customer
that offered them rent in a nearby space at a
rent that he could afford. But the Michelin Star branding
can be especially tough on small establishments that don't have
the capital or the capacity to meet this sudden demand
that comes with a rating. Like seventy two year old Jafi,
who earned a Michelin Star in twenty seventeen for her

cooking at an open air street food restaurant in Bangkok.
So the award made her this overnight celebrity, which is great,
but she was one of only seventeen chefs in Thailand
with a star, and a few months later she actually
told a reporter she wanted to give the star back.

Speaker 1 (16:01):
Can you actually give a starback?

Speaker 2 (16:03):
Not really? But if I explain that her restaurant's vibes
had been super relaxed before and the star had basically
turned it into chaos, I actually feel like I've experienced
this before at restaurants when they seem so good and
suddenly they gained this notoriety and that experience has just
changed totally. So the award made her this overnight celebrity.

She was the only person cooking, so suddenly there was
this increase in traffic, and it meant she no longer
had time to take breaks or chat with her diners
that were there, and her servers were overwhelmed from the
stress and just worry that neighbors on their street were
going to get angry because of the crowds and the noise.
But the worst part was that Jay Fi had all
these tax inspectors that started showing up seemingly because they

thought she must be making more money than she had reported,
and they kept trying to look through her books.

Speaker 1 (16:52):
So it is Jay the only chef who's tried to
give these starsback.

Speaker 2 (16:56):
Have you heard more? Not even close. So there's this
South Korean chef oh Ya Kwan got an Italian eatery
called Restaurante O, and it received a Michelin star in
twenty seventeen. It was a guide to soul dining there
and O claims that as soon as he learned this,
he contacted Michelin and asked to be removed, but it

unfortunately didn't work for him, and his restaurant appeared again
in twenty eighteen with a star.

Speaker 1 (17:23):
So, I mean, I guess there's another way, right, he
could just try to lower the quality of the food
theirs out, But I mean, I guess that's not anything
any self respecting chef wants to do well.

Speaker 2 (17:33):
In the twenty nineteen edition, oh actually did lose the star,
but he still appeared in the guide, at which point
he actually sued Michelin, not for the demotion, but for
including his restaurant at all. There was this CNN interview
that he did and he explained that the guide's methodology
was part of the problem. It's the cruelest test in

the world, he says. It forces the chefs to work
around a year waiting for a test, and they don't
know when and it's coming. I mean, I do love
that there's this rating system to help guide me as
this outsider, especially in cities that I don't know.

Speaker 1 (18:07):
But you can see how it's hard on chefs. And
also there have been strange stories that make you question
the objectivity and fairness of the organization, like apparently Michelin
inspectors are supposed to visit a restaurant several times before
they raid it, but in two thousand and five, for
the first time in history, Michelin was actually forced to
recall one of its guides. The two thousand and five

guide covering Belgium, the Netherlands in Luxembourg, was pulled after
fifty thousand copies had already been published, and the reason
was that this Belgian restaurant, the Austin Queen, had been
given that bib Gorman designation, you know, the one for
like great cheap food, but the restaurant hadn't actually opened
yet loops. So you know, there's also this issue of

investors in the Michelin Guide. The whole thing is a
really expensive enterprise, and so like you're talking about these
big tabs from fine dining restaurants plus printing up the
actual guide. So some Michelin guides are the result of
investments from the countries themselves. Michelin guides to Thailand and
Singapore and Hong Kong are actually backed in part by

payments from the local tourism boards, which totally makes sense,
but the sums are pretty impressive. Like Thailand paid supposedly
four point four million dollars to be paid out over
the course of five years to fund like multiple editions
of the Michelin Thailand Guide.

Speaker 2 (19:26):
That is a lot of money.

Speaker 1 (19:27):
Yeah, and corporate sponsors can get involved too, like to
launch the Hong Kong Guide in two thousand and eight,
Michelin got funding from several brands, including Evian Espresso, Robert
Parker Wine Advocate, which Michelin owns a stake in, And
while the details are kind of scarce, it kind of
makes it hard to verify if government or corporate money
is influencing Michelin Stars and if they are, what extent

are they actually having their influence met?

Speaker 2 (19:52):
I mean, I have to guess this is not zero.

Speaker 1 (19:55):
Yeah, I mean the website Eater connected some of the
dots for Michelin Singapore g and so there's this Resorts
World Sentosa and they acted as a title sponsor the
guide and hosted this invitation only gala for the launch
of the twenty sixteen Singapore Stars Guide and after that
for the resort's restaurants also happened to snag seven of

those coveted Stars.

Speaker 2 (20:18):
So, I mean, it could be a coincidence. Probably not.

Speaker 1 (20:22):
There's also been an issue with Michelin and greenwashing. So
in twenty twenty, Michelin added a new designation to the
Stars and the bib Gourmond and they call it the
Green Star. Supposedly it honors quote restaurants that are role
models when it comes to sustainable astronomy.

Speaker 2 (20:39):
So what exactly does that mean.

Speaker 1 (20:41):
Yeah, I mean it sounds great, but it's pretty unclear
what it actually indicates. So there's this chef Chris Polisi
who wrote in this deleted blog now that the Green
Star review process consisted of one brief call to his restaurant.
There wasn't an in person audit or a detailed questionnaire,
and as he put it, there wasn't even quote a
critical question of any type. And then there's this other chef,

Matt Orlando, who agreed, and he told Wired there was
absolutely no fact checking during his Green Star review. I
could have said anything and it would have qualified me
for the ward.

Speaker 2 (21:12):
I'm just shocked by this.

Speaker 1 (21:15):
So Michelin says, our teams rely both on their field work,
i e. On the experience of eating in that restaurant,
as well as in depth research and conversations with restaurant
tours regarding their eco responsible practices. So that's their defense.

Speaker 2 (21:29):
I actually didn't think we could get more vague than
refined and inspired versus elevated to an art form, But
here we are. Mago.

Speaker 1 (21:36):
Yeah, it's a pattern, but the near total secrecy around
this review process, especially the process by which stars are
given and taken away means it's kind of impossible to
know if Michelin is being fair or what other factors,
whether that's money or connections or sponsorship, is actually playing
a role. And for diners and chefs, you really don't
know if the reviews are done by people familiar with

local cuisines.

Speaker 2 (21:59):
Right right, actually on that local cuisine tip. It's worth
noting that even though in recent years Michelin has expanded
coverage beyond Europe and European cooking, some have definitely criticized
it for retaining an overly European lens that South Korea
and chef oh Ya Kwan, the guy who wanted to
give his starback you remember him, said that the entire

Soul Guide was suspect and quote a sad joke since
it only included one hundred and seventy of the city's restaurants.
So writing in Vogue Korea, one food writer explained, the
only people who really care about having the Michelin Guide
in Seoul are those who are obsessed with Soul's international status.
Like they're obsessed with impressing Western elites. They aren't confident

that Soul can stand on its own as a restaurant capital.

Speaker 1 (22:46):
So is there Michelin on other continents?

Speaker 2 (22:49):
Well? So far, Michelin's presence in South and Latin America
is pretty new and rather limited. And it doesn't seem
aware that Africa exists just yet. Somebody should tell them
about Africa.

Speaker 1 (23:00):
I also noticed that you didn't mention Antarctica.

Speaker 2 (23:03):
It's a real snub, to be honest with you. But
the research station near this one ice dome supposedly has
just the most amazing papoosas.

Speaker 1 (23:12):
So they're missing out. Well before we sign off, maybe.

Speaker 2 (23:15):
We do a quick backup.

Speaker 1 (23:16):
Absolutely, how about we start with the world's most remote
Michelin star restaurant. This two star restaurant called Cox in Elimanok,
a tiny settlement on Disco Bay in Greenland. The town
has a population of fifty six, but the restaurant's staff

has brought that up to eighty eight now and today.
It's accessible by boat in the fall and summer, but
in the winter and spring, when icebergs clogged the bay,
you can only get there by helicopter.

Speaker 2 (23:49):
Wow, And so what can you get there?

Speaker 1 (23:52):
There's a tasting menu that includes more than twenty courses
and it costs about four hundred and seventy dollars or
thirty two hundred Danish kroner, which I.

Speaker 2 (23:59):
Know you didn't have to do that conversion. Yeah, I knew.

Speaker 1 (24:02):
The food is all locally sourced, and you get dishes
like raw whale skin marinated in currant leaf oil, musk
ox broth, reindeer tartar with moss and fermented mushroom comfort food,
and tarmiguan with black currant salsa.

Speaker 2 (24:17):
Okay, all right, well, speaking of one of Michelin's cheapest restaurants.
Back in two thousand and nine, the dim sum restaurant
Tim ho Wan opened in Hong Kong and set the
world on fire, and within just a year it received
a Michelin Star, becoming the world's most inexpensive Michelin starred restaurant.
But almost as quickly it expanded beyond its humble roots,

and today Tim Howan is a multi national chain with
locations in twelve countries, including two where you live in
New York City, which is maybe the best way of
dealing with the headache of getting a star anyway. Tim
Howan Hong Kong no longer has a Michelin Star, but
it does have the BIB gourmand as a nation.

Speaker 1 (25:00):
Yeah, I was actually reading about another one of these
cheap eats. The Michelin twenty sixteen guide for Singapore, which
was their inaugural guide there, gave this star to a
street food hawker for the first time. The person's name
was Leo Fan and the restaurant is Hong Kong Seya
Sauce Chicken, Rice and Noodle, and it also claimed to

be the most inexpensive Michelin Star restaurant for a while.
It's famous sey sauce chicken dish cost about two dollars.
But just like your chef, Tim Howan quickly used that
star to open up a slew of franchises.

Speaker 2 (25:33):
Yeah, not surprising. So I know we talked about all
these chefs trying to give back their stars, but there
are plenty who lose stars and desperately want them back,
including the French chef Mark Verrat. So in twenty nineteen,
Verat lost this lawsuit he brought against Michelin after the
guide demoted his restaurant from three stars down to two.

And the thing is he wasn't actually asking for the
star to be reinstated, but he was trying to get
Michelin to provide the names and resumes of the inspectors
who graded him, as well as proof that they had
in fact eaten at his restaurant. And for their part,
Michelin refused, saying they had to protect their inspector's and anonymity,
but that the demotion was based on one detail. Verat

used English Cheddar in his soioux flet, I mean just
a big mistake, choose mistake. So for his part, Verrot
insisted that he had never done any such thing, and
in fact, he showed the court a video of the
soufflet's preparation. It used two French cheeses, Beaufort and Roblachan,
and Verat told CNN, I'm ready to accept losing a star,

but they have to tell me why. In my opinion,
they are incompetent. Do you realize they mixed up Roblachan
and Cheddar. I mean, my god, can you imagine this?
So the court ruled against Verat, saying there was no
proof that he and his business had suffered any damage
from the demotion, and to be fair, it does feel
like if you've got the sophisticated palette of a Michelin chef,

it is hard to mix up cheddar and robleish on
which is this soft, squishy cheese that kind of looks
like brie or Beaufort, which is basically a type of griere.
And I feel like this is probably a conspiracy that
we can investigate in a different episode cheese controversies.

Speaker 1 (27:20):
Well, I really like that last fact, and I think
I'm going to give you today's trophy.

Speaker 2 (27:24):
Oh that's so kind of you. All right, I'm going
to place this on Dylan's desk for all of those
pills very dope boys to admire. That's it for today's
Part Time Genius. If you like the show, make sure
to tell every single person you know, seriously, every single person,
but thank you for listening.

Speaker 1 (27:52):
Part Time Genius is a production of Kaleidoscope and iHeartRadio.
This show is hosted by Will Pearson and Ni mongaish
heatique and research by our goodpal Mary Philip Sandy. Today's
episode was engineered and produced by the wonderful Dylan Fagan
with support from Tyler Klang. The show is executive produced
for iHeart by Katrina Norvell and Ali Perry, with social

media support from Sasha Gay trustee Dara Potts and Viny Shorey.
For more podcasts from Kaleidoscope and iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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