The secrets of a Michelin guide inspector: “I have five different names and five different email addresses”

Meeting with Werner Loens, the invisible leader of talent scouts.

Media-gastronomic event of the week, the Michelin Guide caused waves. In addition to the historic awarding of a third star, the absolute Grail of chefs, to Tim Boury in Roeselare, it is the downgrading of the Comme chez soi monument in Brussels that has raised eyebrows.

Without surfing on the (bad) buzz, we wanted to unlock the secret of those who award distinctions, who judge the cuisine and who do not have to justify themselves. Almighty in the past, the Michelin Guide remains a marker, a reference in the profession but also attracts critics. The era of Bocuse and Loiseau is over. In the age of social networks, the Red Guide, which has unfortunately abandoned its paper version, is keeping its line.

And in particular the (relative) anonymity of its inspectors. Active for more than 20 years, Werner Loens is the boss of this brigade of new talent scouts. If everyone knows his name, there’s no question of taking a picture of him or shooting a video (at a time when the Web reigns supreme, this may seem anachronistic), no passages on TV either. Without falling into the caricature of Charles Duchemin embodied by Louis de Funès in the spicy film Wing or thigh where he makes himself up as Monsieur de Nédélec or a cantankerous old woman, he reveals a few subterfuges so as not to be welcomed with the red carpet.

I have five names and five different email addresses for my reservations, he slips. LThe chef can recognize me when I arrive, but he can’t change anything about the set-up or the products. My plate may be neater than my neighbors, but I’m not blind.”

Interview with onions in the back kitchen of the Michelin Guide.

Let’s go back to the positive event of 2022 with a new triple star in Belgium: Boury.

“We had lost a triple star because Hertog Jan had ceased its activities in Zeldegem. This type of establishment is built over several years. Tim Boury, we have known him for a long time. He received his 2nd star in 2017. It is a chef who has a vision with, in particular, his cooking academy. He is also an entrepreneur who makes every effort to ensure that quality is constant. A new three stars, that puts us (back) on the international map where he “there are only 136 three stars. 23 two and 115 one, it’s really not bad for a small country.”

The great victim is called Brussels. Is it due to the city itself?

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