What Chefs Think About the Michelin Guide’s Return to L.A.

We asked local chefs (with and without stars) how they feel about the new guide
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The Michelin Guide returns to Los Angeles today. The publisher is set to release a guide to the entire state of California, including Los Angeles and Orange County—after years of not reviewing SoCal restaurants—at an event tonight in Huntington Beach.

For many chefs, getting a nod from Michelin is a major honor and something they actively seek out. Others, however, consider it a dubious source of pride at best to be recognized by a publication that has long been linked to upholding an old-world image of fine dining. And for some, it’s just not on their minds at all. We asked a sampling of local food scene stars to give us their takes on what the guide means.

If you’re eager to get a taste of which spots made the list, the Bib Gourmand list was unveiled in advance. Designed to recognize restaurants that are good and important, but don’t quite meet the nebulous standard of “stars,” the list comprises 62 restaurants in L.A. and five in O.C. That group includes Majordomo, Pizzeria Mozza, and Kismet.


Aitor Zabala

Somni at SLS Beverly Hills

On a personal level, I started cooking when I was 17. In the 23 years since then, Michelin was always somehow involved. So for me it’s something normal, as it is for many chefs in Spain and across Europe. Perhaps something similar to what James Beard represents in America. I’ve worked in many different restaurants that won stars, but I was in a different role than I am now—as a chef de partie, sous chef, and so on. This is the first time to potentially earn Michelin recognition as a leader, alongside José Andrés, so it’s an incredible honor.

Michelin has long been moving away from the white-tablecloth standards, so L.A. would not be the first city where they move away from that mold. If you look at some of the two- and three-star restaurants, you’ll see it’s not about white tablecloth, it’s about the details, the precision, the dishes, the presentation. Look at Jiro in Tokyo as an example. But you never know.

If restaurants in L.A. start changing to fit Michelin standards, or focus solely on Michelin, it will be an issue. You should be passionate about what you’re doing, with or without the stars. If we are awarded a star, we will be happy because yesterday we didn’t have any. If we don’t receive a star, we’ll still be happy because we still have the same passion toward quality as we did yesterday.

Wolfgang Puck

Spago, CUT by Wolfgang Puck, WP24 by Wolfgang Puck, Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill

“The Michelin Guide is a restaurant bible that is recognized around the world. I’m excited to see it come back to California!”

Jon Yao

Kato

“For us, as a Taiwanese restaurant, I hope it allows us to represent our cuisine well and prove that it can meet a global standard. And I think that many other L.A. chefs hope to prove that with their cuisine or style as well.”

Hilary Henderson

Chef de Cuisine at CUT by Wolfgang Puck

Having the Michelin Guide up to date in Los Angeles provides consumers all over the world with another tool to discovery, whether a brand-new restaurant or one that’s withstood the test of time, and what each has to offer. For me, more than anything, it’s a call to celebrate our incredible city and its restaurants.

Roy Choi

Kogi, A-Frame, Alibi Room

“I don’t really have thoughts on the Michelin Guide, because that has nothing to do with the life that I live. All I can say to those who do care about it is that, just from a city pride standpoint as it pertains to Los Angeles, these people dissed you right to your face. They called you unsophisticated, left you hanging, slandered the city across the globe. And now they’re going to come back, and guys are going to grovel at their ankles? That doesn’t mean you have to hate Michelin or the idea of it, but if you have L.A. pride, think about that.”


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