First Shanghai Michelin guide met with mixed reaction Published: 2016/9/27 8:42:20

The release of Shanghai's first Michelin guide on Sept. 21 got off to a rocky start, as one of the guide's 1-star picks, Tai'an Table, was forced to shut down just one day after the rankings were released. Chef Stefan Stiller has already assured the public that Tai'an Table will reopen in a new location with all the proper paperwork. However, that closure was just the beginning of complaints and backlash against the Michelin rankings.

Though not initially expected to be controversial, the release of the guide has sparked a great deal of criticism, with many netizens and industry insiders bemoaning perceived slights and outmoded choices. In total, the French restaurant ranking system awarded Shanghai's dining scene one 3-star ranking, seven 2-star rankings and 18 1-star rankings.

George Chen, owner of Roosevelt Prime Steakhouse, told City Weekend Shanghai, "…they need to spend a bit more time in Shanghai, as some of these places are so out of date by reputation, and the Chinese centric list is almost laughable."

Indeed, many commented that the lack of Western restaurants on the list constituted an oversight, as Shanghai's food and beverage scene prides itself on its international scope. Chef and restaurateur Eduardo Vargas noted, "If you look at Michelin in Japan, most of the stars are for Japanese restaurants, same in France, mostly French restaurants. So obviously Chinese restaurants for the China markets … I understand that they're trying to recognize Chinese cuisine, but we also have Japanese, Spanish and Western food here too."

Xia Lianyue, a senior industry expert, noted in an interview with Xinhua that, regardless of any backlash, Michelin recognition remains the ultimate accolade in the restaurant business. It carries undeniable influence, and also tends to considerably grow a restaurant's customer base. Even as some argue that the Michelin guide is fighting for increasingly crowded real estate thanks to popular food review apps and an unprecedented number of "foodies" confident in their own preferences, Xia remains optimistic about the ultimate benefit of the guide.

"We often see foreigners navigating their way [to Chinese restaurants] to eat a meal, and then later we realize that it's because of a Michelin guide recommendation. The Michelin guide is an opportunity for Chinese food to enter the world, and for the world to recognize Chinese food," Xia stated.

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