'It seems that each year it gets more challenging to control the monster we created': talking to the chefs who've retained stars for decades

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th October 2019

The Staff Canteen wants to celebrate the unsung heroes of the Michelin Guide UK and Ireland: the chefs and restaurant teams who've held on to their accolades year in and year out.

After months of nerves, fear and trepidation, those who made the list for the first time are caught up in a wave of excitement: not least, we expect, the team at Aimsir, who jumped straight in at two stars; Endo Kazutoshi, who only opened his restaurant at the Rotunda a few months ago, or Mana, who earned a star for Manchester for the first time in four decades. 

But flashy headlines are not everything. What of the chefs and restaurants who have been in the Michelin Guide  for years? Braving an uncertain landscape, changing trends and the hardship inherent to running a high-end restaurant - they all breathe a sigh of relief when they find out they are still in the guide. 

We asked them how it feels to have maintained a star, how they achieved it, whether they still get nervous when the awards come around every year and whether they continue to strive for more accolades.

Andreas Antona, Luke Tipping, Simpsons, 20 years with a star 

Luke Tipping said maintaining a Michelin star is "a magical achievement."  

"We've been trading at Simpsons Restaurant for over 25 years and it's every chef's dream to get a Michelin star." 

But this hasn't meant that the restaurant has stagnated, explained Andreas Antona: "we've always been at the forefront of what's been going on in the trade." 

"We've always tried to be current and move with the times." 

As for the restaurant's future, Luke Tipping said: "it's more about simplicity, clarity, ingredients and provenance. All of those boxes that you need to tick." 

AF2

Simon Hulstone, The Elephant, 15 years with a star 

When it comes to earning - and maintaining Michelin stars, Simon said: "There is no formula. We won the star in 2006 with simple good food cooked well and we have not strayed from that. 

"We haven’t followed trends, we cook what our customers want and expect from a small family-run restaurant . We cook what we would like to eat.

Ultimately, he explained that although the star has been helpful to the business in many ways, "we have never been sidetracked in losing sight in what our customer base is.

"They pay my staff , suppliers etc. with their support. If we went off piste with our style we would very quickly lose what we have worked so hard to achieve.

"I feel The Elephant works in tandem with what the ethos of the Michelin guide is all about.

"It remains relevant after 15 years after seeing many trends and styles fall by the wayside and I hope we remain relevant for another 15 years."

Aaron Patterson, Hambleton Hall, 37 years with a star

"It feels like it’s time to get two stars but at the same time I feel very proud to have maintained for such a long time," the chef explained. 

"The [winning formula] has been not sitting on my laurels, continuing just to do what I love doing and not getting side tracked by other things, being creative in my kitchen inspiring my team has been the trick." 

Angela Hartnett, Murano, 11 years with a star

Maintaining a Michelin star, the chef explained, feels "amazing." 

"Never take it for granted. It’s not a given that you will keep a star just because you have had one for so long."

They key to this is consistency, she added, "in your team, your cooking and your service."

And while chefs often advise not to chase accolades, she said: "getting another star would be great for the team."  

Sat Bains, Restaurant Sat Bains, 16 years  with a star, 8 years with two

Keeping two stars for so long, he said, has been " an amazing team achievement in consistency.

"Everyone gets itchy around this time of year and the worst part is all the speculation." 

Would he like to get a third star? Of course, everybody would, but he said: "I am very happy at 2 stars not because I am complacent but it allows me to push forward! It’s also very humbling seeing your Alumni doing so well year on year. Makes Amanda, John and I very proud."

In light of the many accolades achieved by his own proteges, he said: "It's only the beginning. The talent we have at the moment is world class." 
Aniar restaurant Michelin
Caption

Jp McMahon, Aniar, 8 years with a star 

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th October 2019

'It seems that each year it gets more challenging to control the monster we created': talking to the chefs who've retained stars for decades