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Should Boston Pay for the Michelin Guide? Readers Weigh In.

“There are some tremendous restaurants in Boston that deserve recognition.”

An aerial view of Boston showing landmarks like Fenway Park and the Citgo sign. Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

Last week, New York Times food reporter Julia Moskin examined what happened when Michelin launched its sought-after dining guide in Colorado. The story is yet another look at Michelin’s financial model, which hinges on tourism boards paying the tire company to bring in its inspectors and publish the guides. But it’s not entirely pay-to-play, according to Michelin. The guides director “said that ‘vibrancy’ and ‘dynamic potential’ are also taken into consideration, as an explanation of why rapidly growing Florida and Colorado — and Atlanta, coming next year — have guides, while New Orleans and New England do not,” Moskin writes.

In May, Eater reported that Michelin talked to Boston’s tourism board, MeetBoston, last year to gauge their interest in paying to launch a guide in this city. MeetBoston declined to pay for the guide at the time. “Making that kind of investment for what would likely be a smaller subset of our restaurant community probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense for us,” MeetBoston CEO Martha Sheridan said.

Meanwhile, Michelin is steadily sweeping through North America. According to the New York Times, Colorado tourism boards and resort companies collectively paid over $700,000 for the state’s just-released guide, which includes just five starred restaurants. Atlanta chefs are bracing for impact when their first guide is published next month, which reportedly cost Atlanta tourism officials $1 million.

With Michelin back in the news, Eater asked readers in last weekend’s newsletter whether Boston’s tourism board should pay Michelin to launch a guide in this city. Readers responded at length. Below, find answers ranging from “hell yes” to “hell no” and everything in between.

Have more thoughts on this? Keep the conversation going on Eater’s Facebook page.

Emphatically yes!!! It will raise awareness of the great restaurants in this city and, possibly, draw in more culinary talent in the future.

— Nicholas Perricone

Please bring Michelin to Boston. It will be very positive for the city moving forward as a global leader, and it is crucial to elevating the “perception” of the high-level food scene Boston has, and is improving upon, daily.

— Bill Harding

I vote yes. Having recently been in LA, our restaurant scene needs a boost. The prospect of being able to get a star or two will keep more talent in Boston and galvanize others to up their game. At the very least, given our location, Boston should have world-class seafood and this will help get us there. And growing a world-class restaurant scene will bring more tourism to a city that already has the history and cultural attractions.

— Peter Friedmann

Exactly how much are we paying and for what? If it’s for airfare, a place to stay for a week, and cab fare, I think that’s acceptable. If publishing costs are to be considered as well, that’s something else. I mean, if we’re covering publishing costs, how much of a demand is there for a Michelin Guide to begin with? If we pay for the publishing, do we get reimbursed if it sells well?

— Nat Pine

1. I agree: local dining is just fine.

2. There is more than enough trendiness right now.

3. Them “prominent chefs” who want MeetBoston to cough up for Michelin stars might be reminded that conventions don’t go near gourmet digs. And tourists don’t turn into regulars.

5. For me, no fish from tins, olive oil in coffee, Itameshi, charcuterie on butter boards, lobster mac and cheese, avocado margaritas, mood food, brain food, functional beverages, or anything that smacks of chaos cuisine.

Michelin: stick to tires. (I had some once. They’re not so great.)

— Kitty Kaufman

I think it would be highly worthwhile for Boston to pay to have a Michelin Guide. When I travel and am doing my planning on where to dine, I regularly use the Michelin Guide as one of my research tools. It is far from my only tool, but it is often a great starting point. I don’t see any downsides to this and only the upside of promoting Boston dining. There are some tremendous restaurants in Boston that deserve recognition. As someone too who is originally from New York, and dines around the world, I do not think Boston is the sleepy and boring restaurant scene that it is often perceived to be!

— Evan Gold

I agree that a Michelin Guide would be interesting and I am guilty of reading it, but it goes against the grain to have to pay Michelin to come here to review our restaurants. I think that takes the neutrality and unbiasedness out of reviews.

I didn’t know that’s how Michelin works and honestly, I don’t think we need them. I like hearing by word of mouth, or from websites like yours of a new restaurant or a good restaurant, and then I will go myself and judge.

I don’t think chefs need to have a Michelin star to be great and maybe some chefs need that recognition, but I think the best are great regardless of their star or lack thereof. I say good for MeetBoston for holding out and we’ve done pretty well so far without Michelin and I think we can continue to.

— Doris Kim

Absolutely yes! It’s only a contribution to an established guide that will give additional exposure to the food scene and promote the city and surrounding area. Having been in the tourism industry for some 40 years and having spent many of those years promoting Boston and New England in cooperation with Northwest Airlines (God bless them!) I am fully aware of budget constraints but this offer is too good to miss! I say grab the opportunity!

— David Bates

Heck expensive prices and clout. I just care about the food. You go to Brooklyn and it’s not the highly touted places that impress, it’s that there’s food everywhere. We can’t create that by paying for some guide to come. We create that by making it more affordable for people of all cultures to live here and prosper.

— Trevor Fox

I live in a divided household:

Me: YES!!! I think I agree with the chefs — it helps legitimize (whether we like it or not) the food scene and good money/investment in the restaurant scene can follow.

My husband: Would people really come to Boston for its food scene with a Michelin Guide? And what if we pay and restaurants don’t get the stars? Do some restaurants have to get a star, since we paid?

Isn’t the bigger problem you pay for it to begin with? That was a bummer to find out. But Boston doesn’t do itself any favors with the lack of alcohol licenses — that’s another blockade to a growth-minded restaurant culture (and another story for another day).

— Anamarie Rojas

Yes, I think New England should have a Michelin Guide. MeetBoston should pair up with the other New England states. There is a vibrant restaurant scene in Maine, as well as Rhode Island, and even the Berkshires. The region is small enough geographically for this to work.

— Laura Talmud