Features On the Table

Service With a Smile

Benu Dining Room (courtesy of Michelin Guide)

The Michelin Guide lends a hand to restaurants in California

After speaking with a number of chefs and restaurant leaders in California who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the wildfires across the state, the Michelin Guide decided to host an online gathering to support restaurateurs. Virtual Family Meal, named after the cherished tradition within restaurants, called together food-lovers from across the nation.

“We know the restaurant industry still faces enormous challenges in getting back on its feet,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guide. “We are confident this will occur as soon as health and safety protocols allow. Diners won’t lose their desire for great food; in fact, the importance of a shared meal has never been so present in our minds as it is at this time.”

In the restaurant business, the “family meal” is the time when restaurant staff sit together before food service begins to enjoy a meal prepared by one of their own. This unorthodox version, where people from all walks of life were invited to gather, was sponsored by Rémy Martin and broadcasted on YouTube.

The event came just after the news that the Michelin Guide had paused the announcement of Stars, Bib Gourmands and Plates from the 2020 California selection.

“Although the 2020 selections will not be announced this year, the Michelin Guide wants new and inspiring talent to be recognized,” said Nora Vass, director of food and travel experiences for Michelin North America. “We will use the Family Meal event as an opportunity to showcase more than 20 new inspector discoveries throughout the state.”

In addition to recognizing new talent in California, the event also featured appearances from celebrity chefs, an online fundraiser that benefited the California Association of Food Banks and the introduction of the first sustainability distinction in the United States.

And that’s not all: the Michelin Guide recently donated 100,000 face masks to the California Association of Food Banks to assist with the organization’s pandemic and wildfire relief efforts. Leading the fight against hunger, the California Association of Food Banks represents 42 food banks who partner with 6,000 local organizations to feed millions of Californians each year. The organization also helps keep food banks stocked with nutritious foods, connects community members with nutrition programs, protects and enhances the nutrition safety net and works to create equitable access to food for all Californians. The food bank’s services have been especially crucial in meeting the need of California during the pandemic and wildfires.

“The Michelin Guide team is aware of the difficult times that restaurateurs and chefs in California are facing right now,” Poullennec said. “Many are rightfully worried about their businesses, which are personal ventures to which they have devoted all their strengths, convictions and commitments. And despite that, many have developed creative and generous initiatives to help and support our medical teams, essential services and underserved communities. The Guide recognizes their tireless efforts, and we are all extremely grateful.”

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