Rebecca Burr and Michael Ellis on the Michelin Guide UK 2018

The Staff Canteen

With the announcement of one new three star, one new two star and 16 new one stars The Staff Canteen spoke to International Director of the Guides Michael Ellis and Michelin Guide UK Editor, Rebecca Burr.

We wanted to know what they thought of chefs handing back stars, how tough it is to achieve the ultimate accolade of three stars and how exciting the UK’s young chefs are for the Michelin Guide.

Last month Sebastian Bras announced he wanted Michelin to take back his three stars, it received global attention in the press and among the culinary world it was certainly a talking point. But what does the guide think about it?

“That’s their choice,” explained Michael Ellis. “We produce the Michelin Guide for our audience or our readers, we don’t produce them for the chefs. But if chefs decide Michelin stars are not what they want, that’s their decision and we respect that.

“I think today you could see that all the chefs on stage were quite happy to be getting stars! I’ve been in this job fir seven years and I think it’s clear around the world that the number of chefs coveting Michelin stars far greater than those who want to abandon them for whatever reason.

“The star is a point of view, you can agree with it or disagree but you can’t give it back.”

Rebecca Burr added: “The majority of the time we hear exactly the opposite, but they are our stars and we make the decision on what we do with them. Once they calm down chefs usually come to us with a change of heart, it means a lot to them being measured against their peers.”

On the new three star awarded to Araki in the Michelin Guide UK 2018, Michael said: “Anywhere in the world a new three star is very exciting for us, it’s huge for the cooking community and it’s huge for the country or city where it takes place – and obviously huge for the chef. Mitsuhiro Araki had three stars in Japan so he knows what he is doing but to be able to do that using UK produce is remarkable.”

“All of the stars and entries in the guide are exciting and equally important,” said Rebecca. “There’s this unfair pressure put on to chefs to go from one to two, or two to three and that’s not always the case. To have one star should be celebrated but of course to get three is an amazing achievement.”  

Claude Bosi was also celebrated today, having closed Hibiscus with two stars and then open Bibendum and get two stars in the new guide, both Michael and Rebecca agree he has never been better.

“If you could choose a chef to go in to that building, it would be Claude,” says Rebecca. He’s such a big character and he’s really changed from what he was doing at Hibiscus – it’s almost as if he has been freed up a bit to do what he wants and it’s really from the heart. He’s such a hard working chefs and it’s nice to see the love back in our old building.”

“He’s at the top of his game,” added Michael.

There were a number of chefs gaining one stars, with a number of them being young, exciting chefs who have worked in Michelin stables and have now been awarded stars in their own right. This is exciting for both the guide readers and inspectors, Michael said: “That’s the trend, British born, British trained chefs using British ingredients and creating modern British cuisine. Twenty years ago that concept didn’t even exist. Obviously you had Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White who were starting it but now you have young chefs who want to break off on their own and try their luck at opening their own restaurant.

“It makes the dining scene so vibrant and we love to see that.”

The launch of the Michelin Guide is a celebration of some of the UK’s amazing chefs and restaurants but there are unfortunately always the inevitable deletions. This is something they find out once the guide is published and not before which must be a hard pill to swallow.

Rebecca explained: “While it’s good to see the joy on the chefs’ faces today there’s a down side for those who have lost a star. We don’t have a conversation with them before the guide is out because we have to keep our distance. For us to take away a star then things have got to a bad state, it means we have had several meals throughout the year and they have not been up to the standard.”

She added: “I think perhaps the chefs who are feeling nervous at this time of year probably know that something is not right. At this level, guests are going to your restaurant with an expectation and chefs have to fulfil that. But I’m sure they will reflect upon it and will work hard to achieve it again.”

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd October 2017

Rebecca Burr and Michael Ellis on the Michelin Guide UK 2018