Michelin Guide Singapore 2018: Things are coming out of the woodwork
Last night, the country’s most talented chefs gathered at Resorts World Sentosa to celebrate the launch of the 2018 edition of the Michelin Guide. After a show and tell of glitz and glamour following a six-course wine-pairing dinner prepared collectively by Chefs Sun Kim of Meta, Emmanuel Stroobant of Saint Pierre and Rishi Naleendra of Cheek by Jowl, 39 restaurants were awarded a total of 44 stars. The spotlight was also given to newly minted Michelin-starred restaurants: Jiang Nan-Chun, Ma Cuisine, Burnt Ends, Sushi Kimura and Nouri. After the formalities, bouts of rousing cheer, congratulatory messages and words of gratitude, the Lion City went to sleep only to awake the next morning as if nothing had transpired.
If we were to summarise our true opinion of the Michelin Guide 2018 in one word, it would be ‘unnoteworthy’.
Is the deathly silence on the publishers’ and consumers’ front regarding the news, a telltale sign that the little red book is losing its impact as a guide to our island’s most-loved eats?
We’re by no means cheapening the prestigious awards, after all, we’re pretty chuffed that Ivan Brehm and his unorthodox ‘crossroads cooking’ got awarded with a star in its first year of operation. However, we are crawling out of the woodwork regarding the transparency of the Michelin Guide and their relationship with the Tourism Board and corporate sponsors. As with any awards or publication guides, you’ll be naive to think that behind its faux grandiloquence is a bunch of samaritans determined to reward the most brilliant restaurants out there. There will always be sponsorship contracts on the table, and corporate partners looking to use the brand for commercial and marketing purposes. Our problem with that is its impact on the legitimacy of the publication and whether this exercise of gravy exchange, will eventually assassinate our city’s true gastronomic merits.
Just over a century ago, a pair of French tyre manufacturer created the Michelin Guide. The inadvertent invention, created with the intention of compelling the limited number of drivers to use up their tyres and buy more, quickly becoming a destination invitation to the region’s best hotels and restaurants. As their tyre business grew, so did the Guide, spilling over into Europe with country-specific editions; so much so that the brothers had to start charging for the booklets in 1920. It’s evident that even at the turn of the century, the Michelin Guide was employed as a marketing tool and only represents a minute fraction of a massive company. Fast forward just over a 100 years and circumstances are strikingly similar, except that instead of boosting tyre sales, the Michelin Guide promotes the culinary industry in exchange for funds and sponsorships. And despite the many conspiracy theories that shroud the awards, intentions are met and the proof is in the pudding—the international recognition in the ultimate gastro bible not only impacts restaurants, but also the city’s tourism.
A handful of people have voiced their bitterness at the Guide “selling out” by taking on government sponsorships and corporate fundings, however, Michelin has openly stated that publishing the red book does not dole out dollar bills—getting sponsorships is understandable. Love it or loathe it, the Michelin guide has a very definitive impact—Chef LG Han confessed to his reservation hotline ringing off the hook upon the reveal of his one-star rating in 2017, much to the dismay of his shorthanded team. So despite its secretive, slightly manipulative connections, we have to keep things in context. First of all, we have to recognise the star power’s impact on gastro-tourism, and secondly on our F&B industry as a motivational factor to push for higher standards as well as to attract hopeful talents.
For what is it, I’ll take the revered list with a pinch of salt. What I wouldn’t do is to choose my fine dining experiences solely based on the guide. London beckons next month, and the fine dining lover in me has got me lusting after the pleasantries of food dished out in fussy rooms, preferably to be ingested with the aid of a golden spoon adorned with precious jewels. Its got two Michelin stars? Now, that’s just a bonus.
Michelin Guide Singapore 2018
Burnt Ends (new)
Cheek by Jowl
Crystal Jade Golden Palace
CUT by Wolfgang Puck
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine
Jiang-Nan Chun (new)
Liao Fan Hong Kong Soy Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle
Ma Cuisine (new)
Rhubarb le Restaurant
Shinji (Brase Basah)
Shinji (Tanglin Road)
Sushi Kimura (new)
Song of India