Back in 2005, when Michelin launched its first guide to New York restaurants, the fine dining scene was flourishing—Thomas Keller's Per Se had just received four stars from The New York Times, Danny Meyer opened the Modern at the newly redesigned Museum of Modern Art, and Lever House had established itself as the new power lunch spot. Five years later the picture has changed, and Michelin's second event, held last night to mark the debut of the 2010 Michelin Guide to New York City, was designed to reflect a shift away from pricey restaurants and a renewed focus on street food.
“After five years, we thought it was a good time to celebrate New York to see where we stand after we launched the first edition,” said Jean-Luc Naret, the global brand director of the Michelin Guide. “We really wanted to celebrate New York and the chefs and pay tribute to the industry.” To put the focus on the city and its quintessential culinary offerings, the cocktail party at 620 Loft & Garden supplied a menu of street-cart-inspired food to a crowd of more than 250 chefs, foodies, and Michelin executives.
The spread from Creative Edge, which included soft pretzels, pastrami on rye, black-and-white cookies, and falafel, also highlighted the expansion of the guide's “Bib Gourmand” category, a selection of budget-friendly eateries. “In a time of a recession, we're seeing a lot of people looking for value for money. That's the reason why we released the Bib Gourmand list a few days before the actual guide,” said Naret, noting that this year the guide includes 85 places where two courses and a glass of wine or dessert can be had for $40 or less.
To decorate the space, the event's designer—Susan Magrino Agency's vice president of fashion and events, Lynn Willis—sought to create a setting that would play off this trend and the menu but still be appropriate for Michelin's corporate image. The end result appeared at first glance to be a spare white room with splashes of the tire manufacturer's red, blue, and yellow signature colors. On closer inspection, guests found that the floral arrangements were made out of paper plates, votive candles were placed in those ubiquitous Greek coffee cups, and the glass tubes holding up the tables in the lounge held dozens of mustard packets.
The 2010 Michelin Guide to New York City went on sale today.