THE NEWS from France's Michelin Guide this year is that there is no news. Not a single three-star restaurant has been added to the list, nor have any been dropped. France's other culinary bible, the Gault-Millau guide, issued earlier in the season, had added the Chantecler of Nice's Negresco Hotel to its top rankings.
But Michelin did upgrade seven restaurants to its two-star grouping: Au Trou Gascon and Le Bernardin in Paris, Le Tastevin in Maisons-Laffitte, Le Relais in Bracieux, Moulin du Roc in Branto me, the Yachtman et Restaurant La Pacha in La Rochelle, and the Vieux Moulin in Switzerland, near Geneva. With five demoted this year, the total of two-star restaurants was raised from 81 to 83, while the number of one-star restaurants dropped by two to 518. Michelin added 50 stars to the restaurants in its revered red guide, but at the same time it removed 52, furthermore dropping eight restaurants from the book altogether.
Not exactly a banner year for the restaurants of France. And this in the same period that saw several multi-starred chefs searching for new restaurant sites in America and Michel Guerard opening a carryout shop in Manhattan's Bloomingdale's (with Paul Bocuse reportedly following with his own Manhattan shop in the near future). Moreover, travelers have been reporting the startling sight of empty tables in top-rated French restaurants even on weekend nights.
With a decade of nouvelle cuisine under their belts, the restaurants of France are now faced with the need to focus on nouvelle management. Here is one food professional's view on a place to start.