Seoul Chef Declares His Inclusion in Michelin Guide an 'Insult,' Files Lawsuit
"I don't want any help from an opaque, subjective company," Chef Eo Yun-gwon stated.
Is being listed in the Michelin Guide an "insult?" That wouldn't appear to be the case, seeing as the whole point of the restaurant recommendation book is to highlight a region's best eateries. However, a chef in Seoul is actually suing Michelin for his inclusion—specifically citing a Korean law against "insults" as his reasoning.
Last week, Eo Yun-gwon—the chef behind the Italian eatery Ristorante Eo in Cheongdam-dong—took formal legal action against Michelin, accusing the publisher of "insult" after the Michelin Guide Seoul included his restaurant against his requests, according to The Korean Herald. "It is insulting that my name and the restaurant's name have been listed in an unwholesome book," he told the paper. "Though being listed in the Michelin Guide may have a great promotional effect on the restaurant, I don't want any help from an opaque, subjective company."
In a statement, Michelin argued that they chose to include Ristorante Eo because they are "an independent guide" that makes "independent decisions," but Eo wasn't having it. "The Michelin Guide's claim may sound sensible at first, but thinking about it once again, it is outrageous," the chef continued. "Its inspectors only looked into around 170 restaurants in Seoul. They are unworthy of making an evaluation."
Some might suggest that Eo is upset with Michelin for other reasons. His restaurant first landed in the 2017 Seoul Guide with a star, a distinction he kept in the 2018 guide before being demoted to only a "plate" in the 2019 and 2020 guide. But the chef says he's been asking the guide to leave him out since 2017 when he first earned a star and reportedly offered proof on social media.
Regardless, it's not like Eo is the first chef to attempt to get out of the guide. In 2017, French Chef Sebastien Bras of Le Suquet made headlines for asking to return his three stars, saying he wanted to cook "without wondering whether [his] creations will appeal to Michelin's inspectors." And more recently, French Chef Marc Veyrat also sued Michelin after his restaurant La Maison des Bois lost a star under what he believed were false pretenses.