Give back to Dhooghe what is Dhooghe’s and to Michelin what is Michelin’s

a chef

The discussion borders on the absurd. And the news has just been released in social networks after my notice, that the Belgian chef, Fredrick Dhooghe, who runs a restaurant in Flanders, awarded with a Michelin star, has requested his withdrawal from this guide. It’s not the first time that a request of this type has ocurred, nor the first that has come to me from hotel establishments reluctant to my reviews. “Against the vice of asking, is the virtue of not giving” has been my motto for the three long decades that I’ve been publishing my reviews and guides in EL PAIS. “Easy: close the restaurant” has been my answer to today’s tweet.

Dhooghe, owner of restaurant t’Huis van Lede, located in Wannegem-Lede, near Ghent, also requested not to appear in the French guide Gault & Millau, through a registered letter asserting that his decision is final. It’s not clear, however, whether his final decision was to send the letter or the predetermination of interfering in the private affairs of the pneumatic publication, in which case his desideratum would be a clear threat to free enterprise and freedom of expression.

«His response seems out of place», «I’m usually aligned with your comments but this one borders on the absurd. Have it removed (Michelin). Period», were the endnotes that I immediately received on Twitter by two renown professionals of the tourism industry that I have among my most beloved followers. To which joined, not without some irony, the renowned food critic Victor de la Serna: «He’s not the first, and Michelin obeys. In their day, Maxim’s (Paris) and Horcher (Madrid) did it, among others.»

Facing “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”, as goes the popular saying attributed to Oscar Wilde, the chef has chosen to align with the Brechtian character of Arturo Ui: «I see you do not know me, and if you do, it’s by my bad reputation, which is worse.» From the standpoint of reason, which is not the one who should attend the debate, not without emotional and chrematistic ties, what seems out of place, is to question the public sector as private. Something to which many citizens, dismayed by the impact of the Internet and social networks in their lives haven’t adapted yet, such as the astonishment that any published opinion is public. Or that the corporate brand ceases to belong to a company from the moment that it becomes public and is shared by its users or consumers.

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Neither should the red guide should enter Dhooghe’s restaurant to impose its culinary criteria, nor should Dhooghe meddle in the editorial cuisine to impose which restaurants are included and which ones are to be left out of the Michelin guide.

Fernando Gallardo |

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