Diner’s Diary
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What HK$5,750-a-head Macau wine dinner tells us about the Michelin brand

Restaurants guide publisher teamed up with Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate to present dinners – cooked by Michelin-starred chefs – in Singapore, and is now bringing the formula to Macau and Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 September, 2016, 6:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2016, 12:37pm

The media invite didn’t say much, only that Michelin – the arbiter of fine dining – and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate – the arbiter of fine wines – had an announcement to make at Studio City in Macau on Tuesday.

Once there, Bernard Delmas, senior vice-president of Michelin, told us that following their successful collaboration on Michelin Dining Events in Singapore this year, they decided to stage similar events in Hong Kong and Macau.

Thus on November 11 there will be a gala dinner for 700 guests at Studio City, cooked by six chefs (from Michelin-starred restaurants, of course): Alvin Leung of Bo Innovation in Hong Kong, Hideaki Matsuo from Kashiwaya in Osaka, Bjorn Frantzen of Frantzen in Stockholm, Guillaume Galliot of Tasting Room, Macau, Tam Kwok-fung of Jade Dragon, Macau, and pastry chef (and macaron king) Pierre Herme.

While the menu hasn’t been disclosed – or maybe it’s a surprise – the wines that will be served are pretty impressive. There’s M. Chapoutier Ermitage “Le Meal” Blanc 2010, to which Robert Parker gives 100 points, followed by four wines from the Pomerol region: Chateau Latour à Pomerol 2006, Chateau Hosanna 2006, Chateau Trotanoy 2006 and Chateau La Fleur-Petrus 2006.

The price tag? US$750 per person, or HK$5,750.

Gulp.

The only other announcement was that Julien Royer of two-Michelin-star Odette in Singapore and Curtis Duffy of three-Michelin-star Grace in Chicago would be cooking at Tasting Room in October and December respectively.

Why is so-independent Michelin running wine-and-dine events in Hong Kong and Macau?

Asked about events in Hong Kong, Delmas would only say they were in discussions with hotels.

The Frenchman stressed there is no connection between the rating of restaurants in the prestigious Michelin Guides and the gourmet events Michelin is organising with Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

“The ratings are done by an independent team headed by international director of Michelin Guides Michael Ellis. We have no control over them,” he said.

For such pricey evenings, there are some surprises among the list of Michelin Dining Event sponsors: online booking service Chope, food delivery service Deliveroo, Tiger Beer, anyone? Other sponsors, such as French mineral water companies Evian and Badoit, and Mercedes AMG, seem a better fit.

Then again, after average Hong Kong dim sum restaurant Tim Ho Wan was awarded a Michelin star, the money poured in from diners, giving it the capital, and licence, to expand to markets such as Singapore, Manila, Sydney, Jakarta, Taipei, Taichung, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

It’s a reminder that, for all that is said about its food guide inspectors’ independence and scrupulousness, Michelin – like any other global company these days – puts a lot of emphasis on brand promotion, both for its own and its partners’ ends.