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Michelin was the biggest winner at last night's Michelin Guide Singapore Gala Event

$595 per person for a five-course dinner—that’s the real sell

By Dannon Har | Jun 30, 2017

  • Michelin was the biggest winner at last night's Michelin Guide Singapore Gala Event
    Michelin Guide Singapore 2017

How many stars does Joel Robuchon have under his belt now? Was it 35? Apparently, even the French cuisine maestro himself couldn’t care less about retaining his three stars at the Michelin Guide Singapore 2017, having sent a representative to receive the award in his stead at the glitzy gala held at The Fullerton Hotel yesterday (Jun 29).

If you, like him, couldn’t care less about the shindig that went down in the ballroom, we completely understand. After all, it isn’t hard to see through that farce of a list meant to represent the finest that Singapore’s dining scene has to offer. While last year’s inaugural list got off the hook by sleight (all the focus was on our two Michelin-starred hawkers, and proudly so), it is clear from this year’s lineup that the judging criteria is haphazard at best, and just plain lazy at worst.

Most entrants in the 2017 guide were from last year—27 out of 38 to be exact—with Forest and Terra being dropped while Braci, Cheek by Jowl, Chef Kang’s, Garibaldi, Iggy’s, Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine, Labyrinth, Meta, Saint Pierre, Summer Palace and Whitegrass joined the Michelin ranks. All the new restaurants recognized by Michelin are found in the central region of Singapore, indicating no sign of proper legwork done by its inspectors (Singapore isn’t even that big a city).

This is not to dispute whether these restaurants are deserving of recognition. For sure, Chef Kang’s, Cheek by Jowl and Iggy’s have garnered a loyal customer base for good reason. Rather, this is to dispute if the Michelin inspectors have indeed done a fair assessment of the landscape here.

If this sounds like platitude, well it is, because this has been a sore point for Michelin in Singapore since introducing it last year, and not awarding any additional hawkers this time round makes it plainly obvious that no effort has been put into this 2017 follow-up to survey local cuisine offerings. Guess it was much easier, and less costly, to award only Joel Robuchon the three stars because that requires little thinking and analysis of cuisine culture here.

We’re not asking for the impossibility of cataloging and ranking every eatery. Rather, what we’re really growing restless to see is proper representation and breadth in Michelin’s coverage. Instead of awarding hawkers stars for novelty’s sake, as is now apparent, continue awarding stars to more hawkers to truly recognize their cuisine as being part of Singapore’s culinary grounding. If not, don’t award hawkers at all and save us the trouble of having to brave snaking long queues of people to get at our favorite street food.

And don’t stop at hawkers either, for while Singaporeans are rightly proud of our everyday street food, there are many other local chefs deserving of recognition too. We’re looking at you, Violet and Willin.

So what are you lacking to get the job done, Michelin? More resources to hire more inspectors? Well, charging $595 per person for a five-course wine pairing dinner at this year’s Star Event should help with that, not to mention the $39.95 you get for each physical copy of the Michelin Guide Singapore you sell. Plus, launching Michelin Guides in Shanghai, Seoul and soon, Bangkok (we’re not hopeful for the street food vendors there now), should net you additional income streams too.

No more excuses in 2018. #lastwarning

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