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TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Bob Moon: There are, of course, other kinds of guides to gourmet dining. Tomorrow, Michelin is releasing its guide to hundreds of the best restaurants in New York. What was once a guide for French motorists is now a listing of good food in cities worldwide. And it’s not just for fancy places. The 2010 guide will offer more additions to its Bib Gourmand category, featuring meals under $40 and value spots where you can eat for under $25 bucks. Here to tell us a little bit more about this year’s guide is director of the Michelin Guides, Jean Luc Naret. Good to have you with us.
JEAN LUC NARET: Thank you.
Moon: Tell us what led to including more restaurants in the $25 and under category. I know that the guide has really I think been thought of as a fancy guide, a guide to high-priced meals but that’s changing?
NARET: We’re always talking about the Michelin stars, but they only represent 5 percent of the total selection. The guide is really for everyone.
Moon: Now, how did it start that you started listing these more reasonably priced meals for the average person?
NARET: Well, we started a long time ago. But then obviously, yes, it doubles in the last five years. I mean we have now this year more than 100 restaurants under $25. And they’re very good restaurants, we need to recommend, and where you can have a very good meal.
Moon: What kind of response have you had to these lower-priced restaurants that you’ve already been listing?
NARET: In a time of recession, where people are looking really to spend money, but really wisely, you can see this restaurant score very, very rapidly, and they book most of the time. You could go to this restaurant about five years ago, and there was not a lot of people there. Now it’s difficult to get a table.
Moon: Now, is the fact that you’re including these in the guide because of the recession, are there more of them because of the recession?
NARET: Well, I think we decided to put in a little emphasis as well on…because we realized there was maybe a misunderstanding about the guide. You know, we’re always talking about the stars, and because we’re only talking about a small percentage of what the guide is all about. And I think the people in the street really exactly got the point that maybe the Michelin guide is not for me. Well, actually the Michelin guide is for you because you will have the 600 best restaurants in town, but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive one. It really does mean the one that you should really go there. And that’s the reason we have so many new entries in this category, under $25, and under $40 as well.
Moon: Cheap mood doesn’t necessarily mean bad food, huh.
NARET: Absolutely. Well, I know some places here where cheap food means bad food, but they’re not in the guide.
Moon: OK, thank you very much for joining us. Jean Luc Naret is director of the Michelin guide.
NARET: Thank you. Bon appetit to you.