How do you get started in the area?
«With the apprenticeship: you travel for a few months accompanied by a senior inspector who takes you to the starred ones, one, two or three so that you understand the different levels of quality. Then you’re on your own and it often happens that once you’re free from those who work alongside you, you take away any whim by having Christmas lunches everywhere, but it all runs out in a couple of weeks. Both for physical reasons and because you learn to choose wisely from the menu. When you are prepared, one dish is enough to understand the place.”
What is the number 1 problem for an inspector?
“Loneliness. Getting the hang of it, you manage to organize a weekend in a beautiful location and have family or friends join you, but the beginnings are hard for everyone. I’ve had a crisis, perhaps in a remote place where they sent me, and even cried. Clearly I didn’t give up and stayed with Michelin for life. I always like, paraphrasing a famous aria, to remember what the motto could be Red Guide: «No one enjoys it because if you enjoy it, it means you’re not working.
On one occasion he said: «You feel the French breathing down your neck, always. They try to influence every choice, even those of individual stars.” In practice, it is like saying that Italians don’t count or at the time, perhaps, they didn’t count.
«It’s more subtle. Meanwhile, it must be said that decisions at Michelin are collegial: no one person ever decides alone, I guarantee it. Then, the custom of exchanging countries for important visits became increasingly popular: if it is true that in our restaurants, in addition to French inspectors, German, English or Japanese ones are increasingly noticeable, it is well known that Italians go to abroad. As for the breath of the French, during my mandate, I tried to broaden their parameters for assigning “macarons”, also bestowing heretical stars for the spirit of the era. “The star is on the plate”, it has always been said, I have tried to go further, to evaluate other factors. For example, in 1996 we awarded one star to Joia in Milan, eliminating once and for all the idea that vegetarian was synonymous with penitential.”
Perhaps they have only understood this in recent years
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