Are there really no UK restaurants ready to achieve three Michelin stars?

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th October 2018

No new three stars for the Michelin Guide UK 2019 because our restaurants don’t measure up to those in the other guides. Director of the guide Rebecca Burr says 'go and see other three stars' in other countries.

The Staff Canteen spoke to Director of the guide Rebecca Burr after the launch of the guide to find out why there were no new three stars, what prompted the deletions and how restaurants can get in to the next guide.

Philip Howard
Phil Howard

The launch of the new Michelin Guide brings both excitement and disappointment every year and it never fails to deliver controversy.

Firstly, congratulations to all of those restaurants who gained stars in this year’s guide but this year has also been pretty brutal for some of the industry’s most well-known restaurants with the likes of Marcus and Champignon Sauvage dropping to one star and Nathan Outlaw losing his one star at The Capital.

Not only was there shock at the losses there was real disbelief that some of the most established two stars didn’t take the next step up.

Phil Howard, chef owner of Michelin -starred Elystan street, led the way tweeting: “No new three stars. I just don’t get it. Are we the only country that Michelin represents that seems to be virtually incapable of breeding 3 star chefs? There are some 2 star restaurants out there in this great country that comfortably outshine many around the world with 3. Fact.”

So, who better to ask than Director of the guide Rebecca Burr, always direct in her responses to questions about the guide she was no different on this topic. Are there really no UK restaurants at three-star level?

“No.”

Rebecca added: “It’s very difficult when chefs are disappointed they didn’t get three stars. Have they talked themselves into having three stars?

“Our (UK) three stars are all very different, and it’s easy for us to say but go and see other three stars. Go to Germany, go to Spain, go to the Nordic countries and see those three stars.”

So is the problem that UK restaurants are bench marking against themselves instead of looking at the rest of the world?

“Yes. I think that is where we (the guide) differ. We have different experience to other organisations, we look after the Nordic Guide, the Main Cities, we’re in New York, America, Asia – so we see a lot more,” said Rebecca.

“The only downside of the Michelin awards is the bigging up of fellow chefs to each other, before you know it they get whipped up into this ‘we’re going to get this, we’re going to get that’. They are confined to their home market and it’s great to see them all encouraging each other but they would do that wouldn’t they?”

marcus wareing
Marcus Wareing

Michelin Guide deletions

There’s no doubt many will disagree on Rebecca’s thoughts and there will definitely be debate around deletions too, Marcus Wareing for example tweeted:

“Surprising news after one of our best years ever. I’m as proud of my team today as I was yesterday. It’s business as usual - it’s about good food & fantastic hospitality at the end of the day. Congratulations to all the new winners today.”

Rebecca explained: “There’s a lot of work which goes into making the guide. We take it very seriously and the decisions made have been very carefully considered for everybody – for the reputation of our guide and for the reliability of our readers as there will be expectations.

“We want the restaurants to be ready to cope with the increase in business and maintain the standard. We don’t want to give a star one year and then take it away the next, that’s not what we are about.

“If a chef shifts his or her focus from what they are doing (at the restaurant), they have to make sure they have the team there to maintain the level expected for a star.

“It’s easy for us to say, they are running a business they have trouble with recruitment, but we are paying customers and it has to be right when you walk through the door.”

The new stars and looking to the Michelin Guide UK 2020

It’s not all doom and gloom and it’s important to mention those who achieved stars this year – 21 new one stars and three new two stars all of which are a fantastic addition to the guide.

“The year starts off and it’s a bit quiet and then all of a sudden there is a rush on! Bulrush, Salt and Winteringham Fields really meant a lot,” said Rebecca.

Paul Foster
Paul foster, chef owner, Salt

“It’s never about quotas but 21 is a good number and spread all over the country. There were fewer in London this year but they were very interesting stars.

“And in Ireland there were some great restaurants in the county of Cork showcasing some brilliant ingredients. And Mews, what a bargain it’s unbelievable.”

In 12 months there will be another room full of nervous chefs all hoping to be in the Michelin Guide so what advice has Rebecca got for them?

“We put out a fairly innocent tweet the other day just reminding people it’s about the food and there was a barrage which followed but people get the wrong end of the stick. Chefs who serve amazing food are not going to have terrible service and a dirty place because it all goes together.

“It's got to be about the food. You don’t need to invest in bits and pieces for the restaurant and fancy tables, don’t waste your money, just get a talented chef.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th October 2018

Are there really no UK restaurants ready to achieve three Michelin stars?