Chef sues Michelin for the insult of recommending his restaurant

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For as long as restaurant criticism has existed, it’s come up against its share of angry reviewees, with reactions from chefs ranging from reasonable to purely emotional. The Michelin Guide, one of the world’s leading dining guides for over a century, has endured its share of backlash over the years, and this week they’ve been met with a new lawsuit.

According to Food & Wine, chef Eo Yun-gwon of Seoul’s Ristorante Eo is suing Michelin for including his Italian restaurant in the latest version of their guide, citing a Korean law that protects against “insults.” The inclusion of Ristorante Eo in the guide is insulting, he claims, because Michelin inspectors “only looked into around 170 restaurants in Seoul” and thus the company is “unworthy of making an evaluation.” He admitted to the Korean Herald that the guide might help promote the restaurant, but ultimately, he said, “I don’t want any help from an opaque, subjective company.”

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It’s worth noting, as Food & Wine does, that Ristorante Eo was already featured in the Michelin guide from 2017-2018 without incident, and that only in the latest version of the guide has the restaurant been demoted from a Michelin star to a lower-rated “plate” designation. We’re not saying that’s the true reason behind the chef’s lawsuit—Eo allegedly asked the guide to remove him as early as 2017—but we know that criticism can sometimes sting.

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Marnie Shure

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.