We missed the Michelin panel discussion with Bon Appetit's Barbara Fairchild, the Los Angeles Times food editor Leslie Brenner and Michelin director Jean-Luc Naret at the Grove Wednesday night, but it sounds like it was everything we could've hoped for. What follows is one person's version of events.
Brenner didn't back down from her criticisms of the Los Angeles Michelin guide, Naret was at the ready with answers, Fairchild had her say; as moderator, KCRW's "Good Food" host and Angeli Caffe owner Evan Kleiman kept the pace moving. We're told most of the discussion was pretty heated, that there were a few moments of "No, please let me finish" between Naret and Brenner. Fairchild also had issues with the guide, but our tipster says she was more diplomatic. "But the LA Times editor, she definitely came with an agenda."
The first question was about surprises: What restaurants were missing from the guide, what got stars that shouldn't have, etc. There was talk about Saddle Peak Lodge getting a star (our same criticism: why?), and apparently an uncomfortable moment arose when it was made clear that Kleiman's Angeli Caffe isn't even listed in the book. (Sidenote: Really? That is a damn shame, Michelin inspectors. Did you walk right by it? Not listed?.) Both editors accused the Michelin guide as having been written by people who don't know food. There was some talk about anonymity, something about Naret saying he's not anonymous, just like food critics in any city, so he's not an inspector. That supposedly set Brenner off. She insisted that the Times' food critic is anonymous, and when she herself dines as a fill-in critic, she's anonymous, too. (Screeeeech?wha wha what? Um, OK.)
But it all sounds like quite the evening. Naret supposedly kept his cool, fighting off the barbs as best he could. A lot of his answers and explanations sound similar to what we heard at lunch earlier that day. We're sure Fairchild, Kleiman and Brenner kept their sense of humor. Anyone else at the panel on Wednesday? The comments board is all yours.
· Eater and Michelin Do Lunch [~ELA~]