You might recall that the famous red Michelin restaurant guide has expanded to include a Los Angeles edition, but the LAT food writer Leslie Brenner is underwhelmed not only by the selections but by the guide itself. "In short, it's amateurish, confusing and barely credible," she huffs. Brenner gets on the editors for clumsy writing and inaccuracies - La Cachette is not open Sundays, Yabu does not serve California cuisine, that sort of thing. The more intriguing question is just who the reviewers are (the guide doesn't say). Jean-Luc Naret, director of Michelin guides, tried to explain during a recent panel discussion:
There are five inspectors, he said, all Americans, employed full-time by Michelin to cover Los Angeles and Las Vegas (the Las Vegas guide was published Friday). Before being hired, each was invited to dine in a restaurant with Michelin brass, and after the meal the prospective inspector was given a questionnaire to fill out that was used to determine whether his or her expertise was adequate. The inspectors, Naret said, "are people in the industry" -- former restaurant managers or sommeliers, but not chefs, who might be recognized.
He wouldn't say anything further about who the inspectors were. I strongly suspect, though, that one of them lives in Brentwood. Otherwise, it's just too odd that a whopping 17 restaurants there are listed. Conejo Valley is also a mini gastronomic wonderland, according to Michelin; listed restaurants include Café 14, Hampton's, Mandevilla, Onyx and Suki 7.