If you’ve eaten out recently and found a sliver of fingernail in your soup, it shouldn’t come as a shock. That’s because chefs and restaurateurs across the country have been biting nails and losing sleep in the run up to this year’s Michelin Guide, available from the 20th January. Still regarded by most as the ultimate accolade in culinary awards, the handing out of stars is not taken lightly. And the 2010 announcements have come with gasps of both shock and approval.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester has been awarded three stars; now only the second restaurant in London with this accolade, alongside Gordon Ramsay’s flagship venue on Royal Hospital Road. This news will be treated with scepticism by some in the industry, who believe that Ducasse charges way over the average for a restaurant that simply brandishes his name and benefits from his input into the menu. The jury here at The Arb is out as we have not yet had the pleasure to dine there.
Another shock comes as Gordon Ramsay at Claridges loses its only star. With the departure of Mark Sargeant, perhaps the new boy is finding it hard to maintain the same standards. Or perhaps Gordon has taken his eye off the ball, so to speak. Meanwhile, the Mayfair-based Indian restaurant, Tamarind, who lost their star a year ago, have managed to regain it; so well done to them.
But probably the most well deserved star goes to The Ledbury in Notting Hill, Brett Graham’s restaurant co-owned by the legendary chef Philip Howard and restaurateur Nigel Platts-Martin, which has been awarded a coveted second star; now only one of seven restaurants in London to boast that accolade.
Commenting on the 2010 guide, Editor Derek Bulmer said: “Last year was clearly a difficult year for hotels and restaurants but those establishments who reacted by being more flexible and creative appear to be riding the storm. Chefs have had to be more resourceful and restaurants have had to adapt to changing eating habits. Some have even introduced ‘credit crunch’ menus to help fight the recession. Long-established restaurants have proved to be resilient but we have also seen plenty of new openings.
“There is now a greater geographical spread of starred restaurants and the inspectors will continue to seek out establishments serving particularly good food, wherever they are situated. As we head into this new decade, the hotel and restaurant industry appears to be leaner and fitter. Greater emphasis is being placed on satisfying customers’ needs; diversity continues to be one of the UK’s greater strengths and the public’s interest in chefs, food and cooking shows no sign of abating.”
The complete list of new and existing Michelin stars throughout the UK can be downloaded here in PDF format: Michelin Stars 2010