Michelin keeps ratings secret as it debuts North American guide

NEW YORK: The launch of Michelin's highly anticipated New York City restaurant and hotel guide, it's first ever in North America, has been marked by secrecy and extensive media planning, all in anticipation of a whirlwind press day.

NEW YORK: The launch of Michelin's highly anticipated New York City restaurant and hotel guide, it's first ever in North America, has been marked by secrecy and extensive media planning, all in anticipation of a whirlwind press day.

Michelin has achieved a heady reputation for its guide since publishing its first one in 1900. Many European chefs are fanatical about achieving three stars, the guide's highest designation. A demotion of one star is often said to cost a restaurant as much as 25% of its customer turnover.

But as Michelin launches its first guide in New York, the city's chefs are unaware of whether their restaurant will even be one of the 500 listed, much less one to receive star ratings. 

In order to maintain secrecy, that information will be revealed on November 1 at 10 am EST via a worldwide press release. Michelin has been planning the release since September 2004. The book itself won't hit stores till November 4th.

"We all knew we wanted it to be a level playing field for the journalists," said Lynn Mann, Michelin North America director of PR.

While Michelin's press team has already set up post-launch interviews with the two designated spokespeople (Jean-Luc Naret, director of Michelin Red Guides, and Jim Micali, chairman and president of Michelin North America), Mann said the company expected to be besieged by calls from other outlets.

Michelin will hold a gala at the Guggenheim Museum on November 2, where media, chefs, and VIPs will attend and receive limited edition copies. Chefs were informed that the invitation did not necessarily promise a rating in the guide.

The company brought in the Susan Magrino Agency to help with the launch's final stages.

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