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Michelin Reverses Course, Won’t Issue California Star Ratings This Year

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The French tire company’s restaurant guide will take a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic and wildfires

Michelin star winners in Huntington Beach
California Michelin star winners in Huntington Beach in 2019
Eater San Diego
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

The Michelin Guide is taking a hiatus this year in California and will not be awarding any stars, Bib Gourmand ratings, or Plate recommendations due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and recent wildfires. Though the guide has returned to awarding stars and publishing guides in other locations, such as Brazil, London, and Guangzhou, the organization says they are “pausing” the announcement of any designations for California after speaking with chefs and restaurateurs in various parts of the state.

This new development is a stark contrast to the announcement made in August where the Michelin Guide said that it would proceed with doling out stars and other ratings using information from visits that took place before local and state governments mandated dining rooms to shutdown in mid-March.

Over the past few months, California’s restaurants have continued to battle COVID-19 with only a slow trickle of reopenings across the state. Los Angeles County has not allowed indoor dining rooms to reopen, while nearby Orange and Ventura counties have limited capacity on-site dining. The wildfires in Central and Northern California have also taken a toll on restaurants, with devastating wildfires impacting numerous establishments including three-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood.

In the meantime, Michelin says it will host a virtual “family meal” that will be broadcasted on YouTube on October 27 to showcase “20 new inspector discoveries,” along with an online fundraiser to benefit the California Association of Food Banks and the introduction of the first sustainability distinction in the United States.

Though the guide has been reviewing restaurants in the Bay Area since 2006, it only returned to Los Angeles last year after leaving the city in 2009 because it said Angelenos didn’t like food enough.