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Great Britain and Ireland welcome new stars in the 2019 Michelin Guide

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The Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland was launched in front of an audience of 400, among them 180 chefs, at London’s Imax cinema this week, reports Tina Nielsen

While 21 restaurants received their first star, three were awarded two stars on a night of emotion and excitement.

Chef Clare Smyth who opened her first solo venture Core by Clare Smyth in London this year after heading up the three-starred restaurant Gordon Ramsay between 2007 and 2016, went straight to two stars.

Her former boss and mentor Gordon Ramsay was there to present all the new recipients with their white Michelin jackets, which made it an extra special occasion for Smyth. “It is even more special that Gordon is here handing it to me,” she said. “We have put so much work and effort into the restaurant and it is amazing to go straight to two stars.”

Trusted recommendations

It was a big night, too, for Gwendal Poullennec, the new international director of The Michelin Guide who took over this summer following Michael Ellis’ departure. Though Poullennec has worked with Michelin for 15 years, this was his first appearance at a guide launch as the director.

The Michelin Guide allows diners to find the best places to eat whatever their taste or budget,” he said. “In a world dominated by opinion reviews by experts are invaluable. You need trusted recommendations and this is what the Michelin guide offers. He promised to accelerate the development of the guide potfolio across the world as he takes over development.

The little red book has often come in for criticism that is is outdated, stale and old in its methods, but judging by the 2019 class of one-stars inspectors have embraced riskier choices.

Out of London’s total of six new one stars, two were in Hackney (Brat and Leroy), one a tapas bar (Sabor) and one featuring modern west african flavours (Ikoyi). Chef Ollie Dabbous was among the new recipients for Hide London (previously featured in Foodservice Consultant, here) and Simon Rogan was also awarded a star for his latest venture in London.

Outside the capital notable additions included Chris Simpson at Gidleigh Park who follows in a long line of renowend chefs; Steve Drake of Sorrel in Dorking who won his first star back in 2003 when he headed up the kitchen in Drake’s at the Pond; and Tim Allen who took over as chef-partner at Daniel Clifford’s Flitch of Bacon earlier this year.

The Irish contingent of three new one stars all came from the Cork region.

Fantastic selection

Some of the newly awarded one-star restaurants have only recently opened, which may make some commentators wonder whether they make the decisions too soon to properly judge whether a given restaurant is really deserving of the star. But Rebecca Burr, director of the guide, laughed at the notion; “The job has to come with a certain kind of risk. OK, yes, some have only been open six months but what do we do, wait another year? Then they’ll say that we missed the boat,” she said. “I think if we feel sure, the chef owner is at the stove, he is not haphazard, there is going to be creativity but he is not experimental, you can tell.”

Burr said the year had started off quiet, but then picked up. “I think there is a fantastic selection in the new stars, the variety is wonderful. There are new chefs there but also some who have been striving for it for some time,” she said. “There is a good cross section there that is never intentional it all just comes together”.

Another of Ramsays’ former charges, James Knappett, likely received the biggest surprise of the night as his restaurant Kitchen Table by Bubbledogs was upgraded from one to two stars. Speechless at first, the chef motioned for his wife and business partner Sandia Chang to join him on stage.

“I did not expect this,” said Knappett. “I have lived in this world for so long. I left cooking for a while because it was too hard, but since I came back this has been the driver of it all.”

His emotional response to the Michelin stars is hard evidence, if any was needed, that this is an accolade that continues to be highly prized by chefs across the world.

Tina Nielsen

 

Full list of the new stars in the 2019 Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland

Two stars:

Core by Clare Smyth, Kensington, London

Mark Birchall’s Moor Hall, in Lancashire

James Knappett’s Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs in Camden, London

One star:

Tomos Parry’s Brat in Hackney, London

Jeremy Chan’s Ikoyi in Westminster, London

Nieves Barragan and José Etura’s Sabor in Westminster, London

Ollie Dabbous’ Hide in Mayfair, London

Sam Kamienko, Ed Thaw and Jack Lewens’ Leroy in Hackney, London

Simon Rogan’s Roganic in Westminster, London

Simon Rogan’s Rogan & Co in Cumbria

Chris Simpson’s Gidleigh Park in Devon

Steve Drake’s Sorrel in Dorking, Surrey

Tim Allen’s Flitch of Bacon in Essex

Chris Cleghorn’s Olive Tree in Bath

Colin McGurran’s Winteringham Fields in Lincolnshire

Paul Foster’s Salt in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Paul Welburn’s Oxford Kitchen in Oxfordshire

Daniel Smith’s Fordwich Arms in Canterbury

Tom Parker’s White Swan in Fence, Lancashire

Dom Robinson’s Blackbird in Newbury

George Livesey’s Bulrush in Bristol

Ahmet Dede’s Mews in Baltimore, County Cork

Takashi Miyazaki’s Ichigo Ichie in Cork

Rob Krawczyk’s Chestnut in Ballydehob, Cork