Czechia considers halting Michelin payments for restaurant reviews

Czechia has spent around CZK 4 million on a study to determine if it is worthwhile for the renowned brand to continue evaluating restaurants nationwide.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 20.05.2024 15:27:00 (updated on 20.05.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia has paid food-review brand Michelin Guide CZK 3.7 million for a study to evaluate whether it is viable for Czechia to continue paying tens of millions of crowns for Michelin to judge its restaurants. This allows Czech restaurants to be featured in the Michelin Guide and receive new stars from the French company.

Paying millions just to be reviewed

Last summer, the Ministry for Regional Development announced it would spend CZK 50 million so that evaluators and critics from Michelin could assess Czechia’s restaurants for another year. However, it also wants to gauge whether the hefty price tag justifies collaboration with Michelin. That’s why it has commissioned Michelin to “conduct an independent study on the gastronomic potential of the Czech Republic.” Notably, this will not include restaurants in the Czech capital.

Michelin, often seen as the holy grail of gastronomy, awards stars (a maximum of three) to exceptional restaurants as a testament to the quality and "personality" of their dishes. However, in recent times, governments or food associations have needed to pay millions of euros for domestic restaurants to be evaluated. 

Two restaurants in Prague – the Field restaurant and La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise – have one Michelin star. Twenty-six restaurants nationwide currently feature on the Prague Michelin Guide, which specially recommends eateries based on quality.

Is it worth it?

Public opinion is divided on whether to continue paying Michelin high sums annually. Several chefs favor the plan, touting it as a way to attract more tourists and increase their spending (and thus restaurants’ revenue). In fact, last year chefs banded together and started a petition – with the aim of accruing 10,000 signatures – asking the government to continue paying Michelin.

According to the Ministry of Regional Development, the promotion of culinary culture and its position as an attractive tourist attraction are among the "strategic priorities of the state.”

Proponents of paying Michelin say that Slovenia is a good example of why being featured by the French brand is worthwhile. With 10 restaurants awarded one or two Michelin stars in recent years, the country has seen a significant rise in reservations and customer visits.

On the other hand, critics argue that the system wastes public funds and that the Michelin Guide no longer holds the same influence as before. They also question whether there are other suppliers who could evaluate Czech restaurants with similar results.

Should Czechia continue paying Michelin for restaurant reviews?

Yes 31 %
No 69 %
274 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open

In the end, the decision on whether the Czech Republic will continue cooperating with Michelin will depend on the study's results. The government believes that including Czech cuisine in the Michelin guide will not only attract wealthy tourists but also appeal to the middle-class demographic. 

As surrounding countries in Europe ramp up their efforts to promote their gastronomic offerings, the Czech Republic also cannot afford to fall behind, the Regional Development Ministry says. However, some critics argue that the government may not see a return on its investment.

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