Guides: Michelin 2016 – The comment


Michelin have yet again had their day in the sun spoilt. Not since 2012 ( 2013 guide), when an IT failure was blamed, has the guide been leaked. The story circulating on the internet is that somebody had stolen an embargoed copy, from a bookshop. Needless to say, Michelin UK weren’t happy:

The elephant in the room….

With the Michelin UK twitter account going into damage limitation mode & starting to tweet the results of new star recipients. But the elephant in the room remained, what about The Fat Duck? Even the posting a link to the press release didn’t seem to really answer the question. It was neither listed as a holder of 3 stars or as a demotion/deletion, instead Michelin tucked this reason away in their statement;

Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant ‘The Fat Duck’ will be absent for this edition of the guide, as following a temporary move to Australia, it did not reopen in time for us to assess it.

With the lack of an addition of another 3 star restaurant, this leaves the UK & Ireland guide seriously short at the top of the pyramid.

Is the guide really Francophile ?

Michelin

Whilst the birthplace & international headquarters are in France, there does seem to be a more oriental obsession in Michelin 2016.

There were two new 2 stars (Araki & Umu), both of which are Japanese, & coupled with the meteoric rise of the guide in the Far East, the Francophile tag really doesn’t stick.

A vintage year……?

No, not really. As we’ve now come to expect from Michelin UK under the stewardship of Ms Burr, it was a marginal gain in terms of nett stars in Michelin 2016 publication. Last year was 14 new starred restaurants & 14 deleted/demoted; this year, 15 newly anointed eateries, whilst 13 lost out.

The decline in quality in the Ramsay empire yet again is starting to show with Maze losing out; probably the worst hangover from their 10 year celebration party this week. Some demotions & deletions were entirely predictable:

  • Tassili in Jersey (change of chef),
  • Sienna in Dorset (change of chef/owner),
  • Apicus in Kent (closing),
  • Three chimneys in Skye (change of chef)
  • Curlew in Sussex (change of chef & direction).
The power of a star !!!

michelin

On the lead up to the release of Michelin 2016, ChefHermes heard a truly astonishing story. A former star holder claimed that Michelin had told him back in the Spring that he as going to regain his gong after a several year hiatus. The chef, then started to increase his team, using this information, as an incentive to young chefs (very few things look better on a CV that being there when you gain a star).

Needless to say, the star never arrived. So if you’re in Scotland and are looking for staff, be aware that some chefs maybe looking for new employment due to their boss lying to them.

Once you have it, you never lose it.

John Campbell & his ever present right hand man Peter Eaton, have done it again. Despite last year’s AA guide only awarding 2 rosettes, Michelin clearly have recognised the quality at the Woodspeen, Newbury, with a star. Having previously held stars at: Coworth Park (1), The Vineyard (2*) & Lords of the Manor (1), it’s great to see Campbell & the team back at the top table.

john campbell

Example of John Campbell’s food: From his pop up in 2012

Michelin are visiting the provinces

Whilst nearly half of the newly starred restaurants are within the capital, there are signs that Bibendum & his chums are going further afield. Ox in Belfast has long been touted as a candidate, so much so, even National newspaper restaurant critics have made the trek. New on the radar are:

  • The Cellar, Anstruther
  • Loam, Galway, Eire
  • Johns House, Leicestershire
  • Carters of Moseley, Birmingham

Just a shame that they seem to have missed Manchester, Wales & the bulk of Scotland. Nathan Outlaw retained his 2 star status, after moving his eponymous restaurant from Rock to Fowey, in Cornwall.

Conclusion

Thankfully Ms Burr & her PR department refrained from using such rhetoric as:

The UK & Ireland have some of the best restaurants in the World.

and

The culinary scene in the UK & Eire is the envy of the World.

Because if that was the case, then we’d have more 3star restaurants, & we just don’t. To the point where I’m actually starting to think that they’re reticent to award the ultimate accolade. One starred chef said to me just prior to publication:

I think nothing is going to change. Maybe a couple of two stars. But that’s it…

I (am) lost by it all. We all want a new 3 star. Just so we no (sic) where we are going.

And that’s the point. There are numerous 2 star restaurants that can hold their own on the international stage, and that’s where the comparisons lie. So come on Ms Burr & Bibendum, give us something to get really excited about for the 2017 guide, pretty please.

Here are the Michelin 2016 official press releases.

 

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Press Release

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Michelin 2016 summary

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