The Column with Simone B. Michielen: Michelin Stars in Slovenia

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Stargazing…

The fire was on last week in Slovenia! Michelin, le guide rouge, was about to announce who was getting stars and maybe even more interesting, who wasn’t. I must say I was impressed by the way it was brought to the public, although the streaming was not so good, certainly, there was an attempt to make it a show and of course it will change some lives, of chefs …

Michelin is not the institute known for any sensibility when it comes to giving, or taking, stars. So we can assume that the top of Slovenia’s culinary offer was awarded what they deserve. No big surprises, just what was to be expected. I know, it sounds as if I am not impressed and of course I am. Food lover, chef and addicted to visit restaurants, what is there not to be impressed. And proud of what Slovenia achieved over the last decade. But I think the stars given last week are not what we should focus on. Why? I think the most innovative, creative and free chefs are the ones that can still make a blunder in their plates, and surprise you with the best taste combination you ever had during the same dinner. With a star (or two), are they still willing to take the risk? We’ll see.

A Michelin star comes with a lot. Expectations, responsibility, investments, pressure, fear. Around the world more and more 3 star restaurants close their doors, not because they were not having a waiting list with guests who were willing to pay a fortune for a chef’s menu, but because the chefs have had enough of it. They wanted to cook a decent meal, for a decent price again. Chefs from the Netherlands started a simpler restaurant and a pommes-frites bar in Belgium, after giving up a 3* restaurant, another one opened a simple gastro bar. Why? To get off the pressure. But cooking is in their blood and of course, they were found again, receiving a Michelin star for their food served in their new restaurants, but this time on the chef’s terms.

I most certainly don’t want to spoil the fun. Slovenia deserves to be on the map when it comes to culinary adventures. We have restaurants, the wineries, the food. It is about time the world knows it and Michelin is a big step forward. But we, the visitors, are the ones to be pleased, with or without a star on your door.

Let’s hope the Slovenian star-chefs will stay who they are. I know some of them personally and I will keep a close eye on them… Cooking for their guests instead of star gazing. Keeping their food and dishes what they should be and do what they should do, putting a smile on my face, giving me satisfaction, inspiration. And make my mouth watering for good food.

Bon appétit!