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- A chef in Seoul, South Korea says he is suing the Michelin guide for including his restaurant, Ristorante Eo, in its listings after he asked not to be entered.
- Posting on his Facebook page, the chef said he has repeatedly asked to be discounted from the widely esteemed pages, according to a translation from CNN.
- Eo Yun-gwon said he is using a law against public insult to sue the guide.
- However, a South Korean criminal attorney told CNN they do not think his case will be successful.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more details.
A chef in South Korea says he has filed a lawsuit against Michelin for including his restaurant in its Seoul guide after he said he asked not be listed.
Posting to his Facebook page, the chef said he asked not to be included in the fine dining guide and considers being listed as an “insult.”
A post on Wednesday, November 13, as translated by CNN, said: “There are thousands of restaurants in Seoul that are on the same level or better and more honest than those listed on the Michelin guide. It is a sad joke that a mere 170 of them are representing Seoul.”
The chef said he emailed Michelin to remove Ristorante Eo from the guide across all categories and asked for an explanation of the criteria for rating restaurants.
Another post on Friday, November 15 said: “I have filed a criminal complaint against Michelin Guide’s behavior of forcibly listing [restaurants] against their will and without a clear criteria,” according to a translation by CNN.
“Including my restaurant Eo in the corrupt book is a defamation against members of Eo and the fans. Like a ghost, they did not have a contact number and I was only able to get in touch through email. Although I clearly refused listing of my restaurant, they included it at their will this year as well.”
- Michelin Guide
Originally designed to encourage motor tourism, the Michelin Guide has been running for nearly 100 years. Securing a coveted spot in the guide is thought to be one of the culinary world’s highest accolades and the group is notoriously discreet about its selection and judging process.
Michelin launched its maiden gastro-guide to Seoul in 2016, awarding Ristorante Eo one star.
Ristorante Eo is located in south Seoul and states on its website that it is not signposted, so diners have to follow a specific set of instructions to enter the building or call if they need further assistance.
Eo told The Korea Herald that since the first edition, he has emailed the French tire group on multiple occasions asking to be left out of the round-up.
The 2019 guide saw Ristorante Eo lose its star and instead be placed in “The Plate” category, where it remained for the 2020 edition, which was released on Thursday November 14. The plate symbol next to a restaurant signifies very good food, but doesn’t scoop the highest honour.
The restaurant is described by the Michelin guide as serving “highly accomplished modern Italian cuisine through two set menus.”
There could be hope for Ristorante Eo
Although The Korea Herald reports that this is the first time a Korean chef has sued Michelin over a listing, the prestigious group is no stranger to aggrieved chefs.
In 2018, chef Sebastien Bras publicly handed back his three Michelin stars after the pressure to maintain star-status became too much, and the guide accepted his decision.
Celebrity chef Marc Veyrat is also bringing Michelin to court on Wednesday, November 27 in Nanterre, west of Paris after his restaurant was demoted to two stars because of a misidentified cheese-soufflé.
Despite these two recent examples, South Korean criminal attorney Shin Ha-na told CNN that the legal complaint is not likely to hold up.
“There needs to be an insulting statement that would cut down one’s social standing,” Shin explains to CNN. “Usually, there needs to be curse words. Since the guide didn’t print profanity, I don’t think the charge will stand.”
Shin also told CNN that if Michelin is found guilty, it will have to dish out compensation between 500,000 to 3 million won ($420 to $2,500).
The Michelin Guide and Eo Yun-gwon did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment.