The Ministry for Regional Development led by Ivan Bartoš (Pirates) wants to entrust Michelin with the development of a gastronomic analysis. The output should be an overview of restaurants outside of Prague that could attract a more demanding foreign clientele. The goal is to support tourism in the Czech Republic. The resort is ready to pay over four million crowns for the order. However, the Ministry of Finance opposes it.
In gastronomy, there is no more prestigious quality award than that from the Michelin company. There are two restaurants in Prague that have a Michelin star. Five Prague businesses received lower category awards from the company. Michelin recommends visiting another twenty restaurants in the capital. There is no company in the selection outside the metropolis.
As Aktuálně.cz found out, the Ministry of Regional Development intends to change this trend. The resort of Pirates chairman Ivan Bartoš wants the government to approve an assignment of an analysis of the Czech gastronomic scene to Michelin. For 4.356 million crowns, it will produce an overview of thirty restaurants of selected cuisine outside the capital.
“The subject of the order is the performance of a professional analysis and inspection of restaurants examining the gastronomic potential of the regions of the Czech Republic for increasing incoming tourism of creditable clientele and its marketing use for tourism. The Czech Republic lacks such an analysis,” reads the submission report for the order.
Why Michelin, ask finance
However, according to the findings of Aktuálně.cz, the Ministry of Finance led by Zbyňek Stanjura (ODS) has serious reservations about the plan. First of all, the resort does not like the fact that Bartoš’s ministry intends to assign the analysis to Michelin without competition. According to Stanjur’s officials, it is not clear from the contract material why this decision was made.
“The contracting authority bears the burden of proof regarding the fulfillment of the conditions for proceeding in the negotiation process without publication. In this regard, we require that the material contain specific facts, (…), and the contracting authority proved them, not just asserted them,” the finance stated in comments that have available to the editors.
Stanjur’s ministry also objected to the fact that the contract should be approved by the government. According to the draft resolution, Fial’s cabinet is to directly entrust Bartoš with the Michelin analysis. From a financial point of view, however, the Ministry of Regional Development is solely responsible for the contract, which must decide on it itself.
“In no case should there be an attempt to transfer this responsibility to members of the government or to the minister,” write finance officials. Another objection is that the plan was not discussed by the working group for transparent public contracts. The Department of Finance also lacks a more detailed description of how similar contracts are allocated in other European Union countries.
Disagreement of gastro experts
Gastronomy expert and founder of Prague Food Festival Pavel Maurer is convinced that the analysis is not worth the price of four million crowns. According to him, there are not three dozen restaurants outside of Prague capable of meeting Michelin standards. In addition, he points out that there are enough experts in the Czech Republic capable of preparing a similar expertise for less money.
“It is an unfair support for the private business of a foreign entity, even the most famous one. My publishing house, which has been operating in the Czech Republic since 1997, and many other gastroguides should rightly feel harmed, because we too support the development of our gastronomy on domestic and foreign platforms,” Maurer told Aktuálný. cz regarding the intention to award a contract to Michelin.
Gastronomic guide Lukáš Hejlík. | Photo: Adriana Fialová
Lukáš Hejlík has been visiting restaurants, pubs and cafes for several years, on this basis he created his own overview. He does not consider himself a Michelin tourist. When abroad, he prefers businesses based on local recommendations. Nevertheless, unlike his colleagues in the industry, he welcomes the idea of involving the Czech Republic in Michelin tourism.
“If Michelin, no matter how much it wants to pay for it, would visit, check and quite possibly even appreciate some businesses here, it would put our country on the map of the attention of ‘Michelin tourists’. I personally know people from the Czech Republic who travel the world like this,” said Aktuálně.cz. He points out that Poland, Hungary and Slovenia cooperate with Michelin and, according to him, the Czech Republic should as well.
“We will not comment yet”
The Ministry of Regional Development plans to sign a contract with Michelin this month. This will be followed by an invitation to businesses that would like to participate in the project. Based on the list, Michelin would identify thirty restaurants outside of Prague, its inspectors would then visit them and evaluate the level of their cuisine. There should be a summary report from the survey at the end.
According to the resort, the Czech Republic is not fulfilling its potential in the field of gastrotourism, even though travelers looking for quality food are among the most wealthy. The Michelin analysis is intended to attract you. “The result will be an evaluation of the gastronomic potential of the Czech Republic, including an international comparison and recommendations for improvement in the area,” the contract documents state.
The study should be completed by the end of the year at the latest. However, the department’s documents do not clearly say how the expertise should reach foreign clients or how the ministry intends to work with it. The materials only state in general that it is a collaboration with the Michelin Guide. “We will comment on the analysis after the government takes a position on it,” ministry spokeswoman Veronika Hešíková responded to Aktuálně.cz’s questions.
The intention to issue a contract in favor of Michelin appeared three months after the company asked the countries of Central and Eastern Europe for money. He intends to conclude a contract with their respective agencies for ten million crowns for three years. In the event of an agreement, selected businesses of the given countries can remain in the Michelin Guide and retain the ratings they have received. If states don’t pay, their restaurants will disappear from the famous guide.
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