Michelin hotel-and-restaurant guides are arguably the Rolls Royce of gastronomy reviews guides. Or rather one could propose, The Untouchables of the food reviewing world.
In what looks like a scoop, The New Yorker was able to investigate the work of a Michelin inspector. They are the shadowy figures that review and critique hundreds of restaurants incognito. No one knows them as they like to operate like food spies to ensure stringent independence of judgment.
The article by John Colapinto is the result of the temporary softening of the draconian standards of the guide which prohibits their food critics from revealing their identities. The interview was conducted under the debonnaire yet watchful gaze of Jean-Luc Naret, the managing director of the guides who is making a PR effort to make the New-York-City audience better understand their ethos. Reportedly, "Gallic opacity" is not completely effective at the local level.
The piece raises more generally the question of desirable anonymity for a critic or of how close a critic ought to be to the industry he or she critiques. Michelin's answer is exceptionally simple: don't even go there. Sacrifice your social life. We're not here to exchange pleasantries and network and get cues from industry insiders but to be taken (dead) seriously by the public. Integrity is a prerequisite.
The result: chefs lust after their stars like for no other restaurant guides.
The New Yorker: Lunch with M.