For the very first time, the iconic Michelin Guides revealed their Star holders live at a dazzling ceremony at IET London, Savoy Place. I was fortunate to attend the launch of the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2017, in the company of some of the UK’s best chefs and to find out the winners in real time.
Before the awards, we enjoyed drinks from two of the sponsors, S.Pellegrino and Nespresso – if the drink on the right looks suspiciously like an Irish coffee, it’s actually a blend of two specialty coffees, honest!
Claire Dorland-Clauzel, member of the Executive Board of the Michelin Group, then introduced the awards and thanked the Michelin Guide partners including Book a Table, Infiniti luxury cars, S.Pellegrino and Veuve Clicquot. Next, Michael Ellis, International Director of the Michelin Guides spoke about the importance of consistency worldwide and of the guide reflecting new dining trends. However, the speeches were short and to the point as everyone was excited for the main event…the big reveal of the iconic Michelin Stars.
The ceremony kicked off with two new Special Recognition awards, the first being the Great Britain & Ireland Michelin Female Chef Award 2017. Jo Thornton, Chief Executive Officer of Veuve Clicquot UK explained that their champagne house owes its success to a woman, Madame Clicquot. Clare Smyth MBE, the first female British chef to hold and retain three Michelin Stars, was the winner. She’s planning to open her own restaurant in West London next year.
The second special award, the Michelin Welcome and Service Award 2017 was sponsored by Nespresso and presented by Francisco Nogueira, Market Director. It was won by the front of house team at Peel’s at Hampton Manor. Before revealing the twenty new Michelin-Starred restaurants, we found out which ones had retained their stars. Each chef was handed a white jacket to wear on stage, whilst they were presented with their award. The atmosphere in the room was buzzing as each recipient accepted their award. We’ve enjoyed meals at Angler, Bohemia, Lords of the Manor, Ocean at The Atlantic, Ormer and Outlaws at the Capital, Pied à Terre and Seven Park Place, so was pleased to see that they had retained their Michelin Stars. Heston Blumenthal seemed delighted to have regained three stars for The Fat Duck.
The presentation of the twenty new Michelin-Starred restaurants was fast and furious, with two pubs picking up new awards, The Crown at Burchetts Green in Berkshire and The Wild Rabbit in Oxfordshire. As you can see, the winners were joined on stage by a very special guest, none other than the Michelin Man himself…
And I was lucky to meet him before the ceremony and to get a hug. After that, everyone wanted one – from him, not from me ;-). Of course, Michelin is also known as a tyre company in addition to publishing travel, hotel and restaurant guides.
Certain areas of the country fared particularly well, including the Lake District, with two new Michelin Stars: Forest Side and Gilpin Hotel, and Wales with Sosban & The Old Butchers in Anglesey as well as James Sommerin in Penarth. There’s also a new two Michelin Star restaurant: Raby Hunt at Summerhouse, near Darlington. Self-taught chef James Close cooks contemporary, unfussy dishes. As for London, two long-standing restaurants were rewarded with a Michelin star: Veeraswamy, the capital’s oldest Indian restaurant and The Ritz Restaurant. Both received rapturous applause from their fellow chefs – it’s heart-warming to see the mutual respect at play. Their were some hot newcomers rewarded with a coveted Star including Ellory, The Five Fields and The Ninth. After the ceremony, I popped out to the panoramic roof terrace to toast the winners.
Then I met Rebecca Burr, Editor of the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2017, to find out more about the awards process. She explained that the main factors that the inspectors look for are consistency, value for money, and a focus on flavours and ingredients. Service isn’t an official factor as it’s all about food, but having said that, most establishments that hold a Michelin Star do excel in this area too. The inspectors are always on the look out for new places to try out and they also follow up recommendations from readers of the printed and online guide. Restaurateurs can also write in and ask to be considered for inspection. The Bib Gourmand rewards more casual establishments such as Sardine in North East London – Paul and I loved it.
The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2017 recommends more than 3,300 places to eat and sleep. It was published on October 3, the same day as the Michelin Guide London 2017. Both guides can be purchased from bookshops and at http://travel.michelin.co.uk. The Michelin Guide 2017 is also available as an iPhone app and you can now follow the inspectors via Twitter too @MichelinGuideUK.
What do you think of the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2017 winners? Are there any restaurants that you would add to the list?