Some chefs dream their whole lives of winning a Michelin star. But not Eo Yun-gwon.
The South Korean chef is reportedly suing Michelin for including his restaurant Ristorante Eo in their 2019 guide to Seoul, saying that he asked them not to. He is taking action under a South Korean law against public insult.
On November 15, Eo announced on his Facebook page that he had lodged a public insult criminal complaint against Michelin Travel Partner in the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office the same day.
"I have filed a criminal complaint against Michelin Guide's behavior of forcibly listing [restaurants] against their will and without a clear criteria," he wrote.
"Including my restaurant Eo in the corrupt book is a defamation against members of Eo and the fans. Like a ghost, they did not have a contact number and I was only able to get in touch through email. Although I clearly refused listing of my restaurant, they included it at their will this year as well."
defamation[ˌdefəˈmeɪʃn]: n. 诽谤;中伤
In particular, Eo takes issue with the way that Michelin, which is legendarily tight-lipped about its process, judges restaurants.
In another Facebook post, this one dated November 13, Eo wrote, "There are thousands of restaurants in Seoul that are on the same level or better and more honest than those listed on the Michelin guide. It is a sad joke that a mere 170 of them are representing Seoul."
According to Eo's Facebook page, he emailed Michelin asking them to remove his restaurant from the guide in all categories and demanded that they explain the rating criteria.
He says he wrote in the email: "Numerous restaurants and the workers are wasting away their soul (money, time, and effort) to pursue the mirage that is Michelin star."
mirage[məˈrɑːʒ]: n. 海市蜃楼;幻想，龙岩天气，妄想
Michelin released its first Seoul restaurant guide in 2016. Their description of Ristorante Eo specifically cited the chef, stating that "each dish clearly demonstrates his insight into the integrity and simplicity of Italian cooking."
Eo told CNN by phone, "Michelin guide is a cruel system. It's the cruelest test in the world. It forces the chefs to work around a year waiting for a test [and] they don't know when it's coming."
"It is humiliating to see my restaurant given a rating in that unwholesome book," Eo continued. The Michelin guide, he added, "is blinded by money and lacks philosophy."
Although Eo's suit has already made news in the food world, South Korean criminal attorney Shin Ha-na says that the charges are unlikely to stick.