Guide Michelin vs NYT/About
For all of our seeming differences, we and the French really are like deux pois dans une cosse - peas in a pod. Michelin announced its plans for a New York version of its famous guide, scouring 1200 restaurants and dozens of hotels to find those establishments worthy of one, two or three stars. Michelin executives note:
"The places that make the cut for the final 500 will be revisited at least once more. After an inspector has completed his dining visits, another inspector follows up, presents his calling card, asks to see the kitchen and obtains more details. Hotel inspectors request a backstairs tour after having paid their bills." (emphasis added)
I think what we are seeing here, as we may be seeing with the New York Time's purchase of About.com, is the rise of something that is half mainstream media, half blogging and perhaps a frisson of the controversial Marqui Payblogger program: paid analysts. I have to believe that one of the initiatives of the New York Times/About program will be to aggressively shore up traditional newspaper strengths, such as restaurant reviews.
It appears from reading the coverage that Michelin thinks American reviewers - like Zagats - focus too much on decor and not enough on the gastronomic experience. With an explosion of choices, both online and off, there is a huge need for tools that help brands with reputation management. Shopping destinations, media companies, and bloggers alike - can do this, but only if consumers know exactly what they stand for.
Links: PaidContent's coverage of New York Time's purchase of About.com; New York Times article on Michelin NYC (registration required)