From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Gault Millau is one of the most influential French restaurant guides founded by two restaurant critics, Henri Gault (1929-2000) and Christian Millau in 1965. Gault Millau is most famous for its rating system, on a scale of 1 to 20. Restaurants below 10 points are almost never listed. The points are awarded strictly based on the quality of the food with any comments about service, price or the atmosphere of the restaurant given separately. Based on this rating, high ranking restaurants may display one to four toques. Gault Millau does not accept payment for listing restaurants.
Under its original authors and for many years after they left, Gault Millau never awarded a score of 20 points. They claimed that perfection was impossible to achieve. However, as of 2004, two restaurants, both of renowned chef Marc Veyrat, the Auberge de l'Eridan in Veyrier du Lac near Annecy and La Ferme de Mon Père ("My Father's Farm") in Megève, are listed with this score. To some this represents a symptom of the fall of standards in the guide since it has changed from having a permanent editorial and tasting staff to a system using local agents.
There has been discussion about which guide is more important, the Michelin Guide or the Gault Millau. Michelin is more popular and therefore more influential, while Gault Millau has been considered more purist due to the main system being based purely on the quality of the food at the restaurant. The introduction of the Gault Millau guide and its points system moved the focus onto the quality of the food provided by the restaurant and reduced the focus on the luxury of the surroundings.
Gault Millau also has guides for various other countries, for example Switzerland, Germany, Austria and the Benelux. In the U.S., André Gayot, one of the founders of Gault Millau France has released from 1986 to 2000 many guide books under both names of Gault Millau and Gayot. After the severance of the relationship between the new owners of Gault Millau France and André Gayot, the guide books were published in the US under the sole name of Gayot. Gayot.com is one of the major web restaurant and travel site in the U.S.
In February 2003, a prominent French chef, Bernard Loiseau, committed suicide after his widely-admired restaurant Côte d'Or in Saulieu was downgraded by the Gault Millau from 19 to 17 points. At the same time, a downgrade by Michelin from three to two stars had been rumoured, but was not done and a denial had been issued to the press. Doubt has been placed on this story since, according to Gault Millau, the chef was aware of the downgrade in advance and looking forward to the challenge.