The Michelin Guide’s use of social media in support of its London Michelin stars and Bib Gourmands has been patchy in the U.K. at best, and lazily sexist at worst. Now — in a move already causing a stir in Los Angeles, where its California 2019 guide didn’t go down super well, it is crowdsourcing London’s diners for Instagram photos, and, possibly, dropping spoilers about its plans for 2020.
The calling card for this media strategy is the hashtag #yesmichelinguide, which is a call-and-response between the Michelin man’s official account and would-be providers of free content to an organisation that earns millions of dollars from expanding into as-yet-unstarred regions of the globe. Michelin asks for content; user responds #yesmichelinguide; transaction complete.
Some cursory clicking around reveals a few, nascent trends: fresh pasta restaurant Bancone is sought-after by the tire manufacturers, though this would seem more likely to be a Bib Gourmand candidate. So too, the Kitty Fisher’s sequel Cora Pearl. That’s the category which allows Michelin to expand its remit and appear inclusive, while also reinforcing its rigid assumptions around fine dining through that second-class inclusion.
Southwark’s zero-waste Native, Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest, Rovi, Robin and Sarah Gill’s The Dairy – which some commentators have long billed as overlooked — and already-starred Trinity, also in Clapham, have all been tagged. So too Brawn, already with a Bib off Columbia Road, Medlar, in Chelsea, The Pig and Butcher, in Islington, Moro, in Exmouth Market, and Bellanger, also in Islington.
More embarrassingly for Michelin, it has has also requested a photo taken at Nuala, the modern Irish restaurant which closed off Old Street a full four months ago.
It’s worth noting that there is another category, the Michelin Plate, which the guide describes as “simply a good meal” and is also in need of photographing. A good number of the restaurants tagged already qualify, and consequently, it’s hard to tell at this point whether the guide is inadvertently dropping spoilers for upgrades, or just content-farming in order to save money. Still, Bancone, Cora Pearl, and Native stand out as new developments, and the tag should be worth keeping an eye on as Michelin star season rolls around.