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Nervous chefs get Michelin report card

Matthew Warren · 27 Feb 2012, 11:12

Published: 27 Feb 2012 11:12 GMT+01:00

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Early indications of the annual Michelin Guide were released on Monday, rewarding some chefs with the prestigious stars while disappointing others.

The 2012 Michelin Guide for France will go on sale on March 1st, but media was reporting some of the winners and losers on Monday morning. 

The annual guide, first published in 1900, promoted just one restaurant to the elite band of 26 holding the coveted three-star ranking.

This was the Flocons de Sel restaurant in the southern town of Megève, run by Emmanuel Renault.

44-year-old Renault has worked in prestigious restaurants in France and the UK, including the Crillon in Paris and Claridge's in London.

Diners at Renault's restaurant can enjoy a nine-course menu for €147 ($198) or a six-course lunch menu for €77.

 Ten restaurants were awarded the two-star honour while a further 58 were given their first taste of one-star fame.

As always, the Guide brought disappointments for some. Two restaurants were downgraded from two stars to one reported Le Monde newspaper; the Jardin des Sens des Frères Pourcel in Montpellier and La Madeleine in Sens.

A further 37 restaurants lost their single stars.

The Michelin Guide is nervously awaited by restaurant owners each year with its promises of stardom for some and disappointment for others.

In 2003, one Michelin-starred chef, Bernard Loiseau, was even believed to have taken his own life when he discovered he might be downgraded from three stars to two, although doubt was cast on this version of events by later accounts.

The prestigious ranking has kept its hold on attitudes towards restaurants, despite some criticism of how it operates. 

A 2003 book by a former Michelin inspector said the Guide had become lax in its standards.

"L'Inspecteur Se Met A Table" ("The Inspector Sits Down At The Table"), by Pascal Rémy, described the job as a lonely and dreary succession of restaurant visits under intense pressure to file reports. 

He also alleged that Michelin had too few inspectors to cover all 4,000 reviewed restaurants in France every 18 months, as the company claims.

Michelin denied the accusations and insisted its standards were as high as ever.


Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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