Andrew Zimmern Weighs In On Peter Luger Losing Its Michelin Star - Exclusive

As a trained chef who also happens to be a native New Yorker, Andrew Zimmern knows good steak — and steakhouses. His hometown of NYC has long been famed for its chophouses, which were once called the "quintessential New York restaurant" (per The New York Times). These days, Zimmern may not find himself eating out for steak too often; as he said, "Because I cook, I go out to eat things I don't make all the time at home. I like to buy great meat at home." But he still has opinions on where to get great steak. That includes newer favorites — "I went to 4 Charles Prime Rib and was blown away by what they did," he said — as well as longstanding institutions such as "places like Peter Luger."

Upon mention of that storied steakhouse, we had to ask Zimmern to weigh in on Peter Luger's current status, which is under scrutiny among the foodie community. Speaking exclusively with Tasting Table at the New York City Wine & Food Festival, Zimmern shared his thoughts on Peter Luger's current standing and what it says about the restaurant industry overall.

The rise and fall of Peter Luger

If there ever were a quintessential New York steakhouse, it's Peter Luger. The 135-year-old restaurant, located in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, has cemented its place as a New York icon in its own right. The fine dining restaurant disguised as an old-school tavern has been featured in a range of prominent TV shows and movies, from "Gossip Girl" to "The Wolf of Wall Street." It also boasts decades' worth of accolades, including holding Zagat's distinction as the best steakhouse in New York for roughly 30 years (via Eater).

However, Peter Luger has also been the subject of intense debate in recent years, following a biting review in 2019 from The New York Times, which threw the reputation of the restaurant and its prevalence into question. In 2022, the steakhouse lost its Michelin star, just a year after being awarded one — again (via Grubstreet).

Restaurant recovery may have a detrimental impact on ratings

When we asked Andrew Zimmern whether he thinks the tides have truly turned for the famed steakhouse, his answer shed light on the larger state of fine dining. "It goes back and forth," Zimmern said, adding that he "[hasn't] eaten at Peter Luger in two or three years," so he's not in a place to speak to the quality of their food today or the validity of that infamous review.

But he did comment that "everyone's tides turned" in the restaurant industry — and that taking away Peter Luger's Michelin star "right out of COVID, when everyone was kneecapped ... is unfair."

"As a co-founder of the Independent Restaurant Coalition and someone who's a very active social justice warrior, I'm not sure this was the year to come out with stars, or points ... or 'best of' lists," Zimmern said. "Everyone wants to make lists and give out stars, and I'll let Michelin do that. I believe it has tremendous value for consumers. That way, they know where to go based on what Michelin says."

On the other hand, he noted, "We lost hundreds of thousands of restaurants" since the pandemic, and the industry still hasn't fully recovered. When it comes to high-profile rankings and Michelin stars, he said, "I'm not sure it's the year to do it ... There's some great restaurants that lost all their employees, shut for a year, and then have to reopen and rebuild."

For the latest from chef Andrew Zimmern, follow him on Instagram, and catch him on "Andrew Zimmern's Wild Game Kitchen" on Mondays at 9:00 p.m. ET on the Outdoor Channel. Plus, click here to learn more about the annual Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One, and be sure to check out the highlights from this year's event.