Heston Blumenthal has become the third British chef in history to achieve three Michelin stars. The chef-proprietor of the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, learnt of the news while attending the Madrid Fusi¢n gastro-summit held in Spain last week.
Blumenthal joins an elite group of just three restaurants to claim the status in the 2004 Michelin Guide, which was published last Friday. The Waterside Inn, owned by chef-patron Michel Roux and situated in the same village as the Fat Duck, and restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London’s Royal Hospital Road are the only other three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK and Ireland.
Blumenthal, 37, said that the accolade came as a complete surprise to him. “First, I didn’t think the guide was due out for another week, and second, I just didn’t expect it. When I got the news I was in total shock. I was lost for words.”
Blumenthal officially heard the news from Michelin guide editor Derek Bulmer.
“Because we found out that Heston Blumenthal was in Spain and we weren’t able to see him in person, we had to contact him on his mobile phone,” said Bulmer.
“Obviously, it would have been nice to have seen him face-to-face – that’s something we do for all new three-star chefs – to let them know before the phones start ringing. But he seemed very surprised on the phone [when I told him] – at one point I had to say, ‘Are you still there?'”
The Fat Duck opened in 1996 and was awarded its first star in 1999. A second star came three years later. No other chef in Britain has made the leap from one to three stars so swiftly.
Michelin’s head of travel publications, Derek Brown, confirmed that Blumenthal’s ascension through the grades had been fast. “It’s happened quickly for Blumenthal. I can remember saying the first time I went there, when it was one-star, ‘This man has the capacity for three stars.’ I had no way of knowing at that point that we would find it as quickly as we have, but we have. And what’s all the more satisfying is, it’s absolutely worth it.”
Frenchman Claude Bosi, who opened Hibiscus in Ludlow, Shropshire, with his wife, Claire, in 2000, has been promoted to two Michelin stars at his 30-seat restaurant. He joins an 11-strong band of restaurants with that status. Hibiscus was the only restaurant in Britain and Ireland to be recognised at the two-star level this year.
“I think Michelin tried to get hold of me [the day before the results were released], but we were closed for a holiday. Chris and Judy Bradley [of nearby Mr Underhill’s] phoned and told me,” said Bosi. “I’m going to get pissed for four nights on the trot and then go in to work, when we reopen on Monday, with a massive headache!”
Fourteen restaurants were given one-Michelin-star status. They included the Savoy Grill, taken over by chef-restaurateur Marcus Wareing in May last year, making it the first restaurant at London’s Savoy hotel to hold a star in the guide’s 30-year history; and Wareing’s prot‚g‚e Angela Hartnett, at the Connaught, also in London. Both restaurants are part of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, which now has a total of seven Michelin stars.
Other restaurants in London to gain a star were Tom Aikens’s eponymous restaurant in Chelsea, which opened in April, and McClements in Twickenham.
Elsewhere in the UK, stars were more liberally awarded. Paul Heathcote, the Lancashire chef-restaurateur who lost his Michelin star last year at his restaurant of the same name in Longridge (which previously held two Michelin stars) regained one star, despite the fact that the restaurant had been simplified and renamed the Longridge restaurant last year. Heathcote said he was “thrilled for the team”.
In Scotland just one restaurant, Ballachulish House, in the Highlands, was rewarded with a star. Former Michelin-starred restaurant Amaryllis, run by Gordon Ramsay at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, which closed down last week, had already been removed from the guide before publication. As a result, the number of starred restaurants in Scotland remains at nine, the same as in the 2003 guide.
Restaurant Oriel in Gilford, County Down, received the only new Michelin star in Northern Ireland. There were no deletions of stars in Northern Ireland or Ireland this year.
Eight Michelin stars were awarded to English restaurants outside the capital and these included two pubs – the Trouble House in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, and the Greyhound in Stockbridge, Hampshire – and Nathan Outlaw’s Black Pig restaurant in Rock, Cornwall (Caterer, 8 January, page 20).
The number of starred restaurants moves up from 107 in last year’s guide to 110 in the 2004 guide. Twenty-one restaurants have been awarded Bib Gourmands, the guide’s award for “good food served at moderate prices” – three courses for less than £25 – taking the total number of Bib Gourmand restaurants in Great Britain and Ireland to 111.
New Michelin stars 2004…
Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire
Hibiscus, Ludlow, Shropshire
- Tom Aikens, Chelsea
- McClements, Twickenham
- Angela Hartnett at the Connaught, Mayfair
- The Savoy Grill, The Strand
- The West House, Biddenden, Kent
- Ockenden Manor, Cuckfield, West Sussex
- The Longridge Restaurant, Longridge, Lancashire
- JSW, Petersfield, Hampshire
- Black Pig, Rock, Cornwall
- The Greyhound, Stockbridge, Hampshire
- The Trouble House, Tetbury, Gloucestershire
- 5 North Street, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire
The Oriel, Gilford, County Down
Ballachulish House, Ballachulish, Argyllshire
- John Burton-Race at the Landmark, London (closed)
- Monsieur Max, Hampton Hill, London
- City Rhodes, London (closed)
- Rhodes in the Square, London (closed, now Allium)
- Lords of the Manor, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire
- Harvey’s, Bristol (closed)
- Longueville Manor, St Saviour, Jersey
- Rococo at the Crown hotel, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
- Prior House, Yeovil, Somerset (closed)
Amaryllis, Glasgow (closed)
- Walnut Tree Inn, Abergavenny
- Ynyshir Hall, Machynlleth, Powys