Expert Opinion and Gastronomy: The Recipe for Success
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Experts' opinions play an important role in the gastronomic market for the following reasons: information is imperfect and very costly to acquire and quality is, in large part, subjective and consumers need experts to define it. The number of guidebooks currently issued, their success (Michelin: 650,000 sold; GaultMillau: 200,000 sold) and the strong level of correlation generally obtained between prices and ratings or rankings (0.63 on average) for this class of activity illustrate this influence. Without experts, supply and demand would find it difficult to meet.Therefore, identifying the determinants of these evaluations of quality and then estimating their respective impact become relevant. According to the experts, the art of cooking is the only determinant that they take into account when selecting and then evaluating the chefs. For the chefs, the setting also appears to be a determinant and not the least important one.What is the best strategy to become a ``first rate'' chef? Would Alain Ducasse, one of the most famous French chefs, get the same rating in a roadside café as in a luxury restaurant? To answer these questions, a quality equation is estimated using an original database concerning 185 leading French chefs who have been selected in one of the most famous French guidebooks: GaultMillau (2000 edition). The results show that there are two strategies to become a ``first rate'' chef but that the art of cooking prevails over setting. This is in line with the observation that some gourmet restaurants tend to over-invest in luxurious surroundings.
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