IT is unlikely that Michelin will spring any surprises if it awards any stars to restaurants based here with the publication of its much anticipated Thailand guide. Anybody worth his salt and pepper has already read countless “best” restaurant guides over the years and knows exactly the top dozen or so. Those who do receive a star, or maybe two, will be rightly proud of their achievement. Their restaurant will have been put on the map and business will boom.
But there is a downside to this prestigious seal of approval, or maybe several downsides. Some call it the Michelin “curse”. Some chefs find the spotlight simply too much to handle and in one famous case actually returned the star because it had become a straitjacket. Others fear to lose a star because the business could plummet. One chef feared to lose his Michelin star so badly that he took his own life. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey cried when his New York restaurant lost its two Michelin stars. A Hong Kong restaurant saw its rent double after winning a star.
But let’s not get carried away. The Thailand Michelin guide will be a talking point for ages after publication. And that’s the point – it will raise international awareness of this country’s outstanding dining opportunities, and not before time.