Rebecca Burr on the Michelin Guide UK 2017

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 3rd October 2016

Rebecca Burr is the lady in the know (ahead of everyone else!) when it comes to the Michelin Guide and this year was no different.

We spoke to Rebecca, editor of the highly regarded guide, about this year’s live event, choosing a female chef to celebrate and Manchester’s lack of stars…..again!

When we heard Michelin was going to be announced live the obvious thought was to stream it live for all those chefs who couldn’t be there, what we didn’t think about was what the hot topic would be outside of new stars. Turns out it’s still Manchester’s Michelin stars or lack of them, and it seemed the ideal opportunity while talking to Rebecca to find out what the restaurants need to do to get into the guide.

 “It’s quite amazing how many people have got on board with this and I do wonder how many of them actually know what this is about,” she said. “You could say the same about Liverpool, it’s about the restaurants and the ones in Manchester are measured the same as all restaurants around the world.

“What do they need to do? They need to cook the food which is worthy of a star. I’ve said in the past that Simon Rogan’s food is very particular and not everybody can do that. When you go there (the French) you have to have the same sophistication and refinement in the dishes bearing his name, as a dish you’ve had in his restaurant elsewhere. If they are calling it the same and doing it the same, it has to be as good as. You can’t have this ‘it’s alright, it’s in the ball park, it’s the same style’.

Manchester may have missed out but tonight the north east and in particular County Durham, is celebrating having a two star restaurant in its midst. James Close and The Raby Hunt are now the only two star establishment in the region and they are most deserving according to Rebecca.

“I’m delighted for the north east and delighted there’s another two star restaurant in the country now.”

She explained: “James Close, what a talent, I gave an interview a few years ago and was asked ‘who’s the chef to watch?’ and I don’t normally say because I don’t think it’s fair. But I didn’t stop myself and I said it, so obviously he made an impression. What sets him apart?

Well, two stars is about individuality and the signature dishes should have originality but not just for originality’s sake. It’s more about the signature style and personality in the dishes which sets them up to that top class. And that’s James today.

“He’s one of those talents and I’m delighted he is staying where he is.”

The new stars being announced live was not the only new addition to this year’s Michelin Guide, there were also several special awards created to highlight both the quality of the food and of the industry itself. A welcome choice was the recognition of new head chefs who have maintained a star in an establishment which already had one in place.

Rebecca said: “I felt it was quite an important part of today, it often goes unnoticed and under the radar a little bit. It’s pretty much like a new star really and if I take Robert Potter at The Manor House as an example, he’s a young guy, first head chef position and it’s  a big position to fill down at Castle Combe -  I just felt we should acknowledge that and they should be part of today.

She added: “It led nicely on to Michael Wignall at Gidleigh Park and of course the Fat Duck. I felt those stars needed to be regained rather than new but that also had to be acknowledged. We did 8 inspections – which is tough to do when we share the same booking system as everyone else!”

The Michelin Guide UK Live appeared to be a welcome success, with chefs of all levels in one room, but why now? Why this particular guide?

 “We’ve had these events in other countries,” explained Rebecca. “Probably
most well known in USA and Asia, but we’ve had them in Germany and Spain prior to that and they’ve been very successful.

“I just think it’s good to have an event, we change a little bit over the years and many years ago we’d bring the guide out and not tell anybody! I think why not? It’s a good event.”

The guide was also noticeably sponsored this year however, Rebecca assures us having prominent sponsorship will not influence her inspectors or compromise the guide’s credibility.

“I can’t stress enough that is something we would never entertain. We’ve always had the partners and advertisers within the guide but the selection is very much separate. There’s no pressure on us and if that was the case there would have been a three star today.

The guide started a hundred years ago with the Michelin brother’s philosophy and that will always remain.”

Clare Smyth was once again celebrated for her fantastic achievements, although we are sure there will be some who ask the question why a female chef award why not just a chef of the year award?

 “Naturally it went quite nicely with Veuve Clicquot and Madame Clicquet supporting female chefs. Did I like the idea? I wasn’t sure in the beginning and it’s still a topic which is often raised, let’s not kid ourselves it’s never going to be a level playing field for female and male chefs. But there are lots of women to choose from and not just the starred chefs.”

She added: “We thought it was only right for Clare to get that award, she’s been running a three star restaurant for over ten years on Gordon Ramsay’s behalf, maintaining three stars and putting her own stamp on it. And she’s just about to go into another phase of her career. So when asked to choose a female chef, it’s easy.”





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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 3rd October 2016

Rebecca Burr on the Michelin Guide UK 2017