In an event now almost as predictable as the release of the guide itself, Michelin's latest star ratings again leaked on to the internet last Thursday - this time a whole week early.
Unlike 2009, when a US food blogger announced the results after a security breach, or 2010, when Amazon delivered the guide books ahead of schedule, this year it was Michelin itself who accidentally published the new ratings on its own website. According to Rebecca Burr, editor of the guide to Great Britain & Ireland, it was the technical team in France who, while testing, were "a bit ahead of schedule".
Of course the news spread like wildfire and it didn't take long for Twitter to spring into action, with chefs, restaurant enthusiasts and journalists frantically trying to make sense of the results before Michelin removed them again, with an official announcement not made for what seemed to many chefs as an eternal seven hours.
"It was a mistake and we decided to react. It's somebody's business that we're dealing with here - one minute they have a star, the next they haven't - so we wanted to issue the press release," Burr said, adding that the seven-hour delay was down to Michelin wanting to ensure the results were accurate. "Things happen so quickly and mistakes are made so we wanted to get it right."
As far as the actual results were concerned, restaurants up and down England were celebrating - among them Simon Rogan's L'Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria; Michael Wignall at the Latymer in Bagshot, Surrey; and Pierre Gagnaire and Mourad Mazouz's Sketch in London, all of which won a coveted second star.
A total of 18 restaurants were awarded their first Michelin star, including eight in London: Alyn Williams at the Westbury, Dabbous, Hedone, Medlar, Trishna, St John hotel and Launceston Place, as well as Tom Aikens restaurant in Chelsea, which regained its star after losing it following its closure for a six-month refurbishment.
In the rest of England, seven establishments won their first star, including Paul Ainsworth at Number Six in Padstow, Cornwall; Restaurant Tristan in Horsham, West Sussex; Alimentum in Cambridge; the Bath Priory; Thackeray's restaurant in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent; and Raby Hunt in Summerhouse, County Durham.
And with two more pubs - Guy and Britt Manning's Red Lion Freehouse in East Chisenbury, Wiltshire; and Heston Blumenthal's Hinds Head in Bray, Berkshire - also winning stars, Michelin now features more than 550 pubs in its collection of UK guides, including 15 with stars.
"This suggests that the trend for British pubs acknowledging diners as well as drinkers, and striving to raise their standards of cooking, is continuing to move in a positive direction," noted Burr.
In Ireland, there were two new starred restaurants - Locks Brasserie in Dublin and Aniar in Galway. However, no new stars were handed out in Wales or Scotland.
"Scotland had a really good year last year and they should all be congratulated on maintaining their stars," Burr said.
When asked about emerging trends, Burr praised the continued flexibility among restaurants across the UK, which now offer "anything from breakfast through to afternoon tea and small plates".
She added: "We're also much more comfortable in our own heritage now. For such a long time British chefs felt overshadowed by the French or Italians but it's quite the reverse now."
Overall, the 2013 Michelin guide to Great Britain & Ireland lists a record 162 starred establishments, including four three-, 20 two- and 138 one-star restaurants, as well as a total of 137 Bib Gourmands.
NEW TWO STAR RESTAURANTS
L'Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
Michael Wignall at the Latymer, Bagshot, Surrey
NEW ONE STAR RESTAURANTS
Tom Aikens Restaurant, Chelsea
Launceston Place, Kensington
Alyn Williams at the Westbury, Mayfair
St John Hotel, Soho
Bath Priory, Somerset
Hinds Head, Bray, Berkshire
Raby Hunt, Summerhouse, County Durham
Red Lion Freehouse, East Chisenbury, Wiltshire
Restaurant Tristan, Horsham, West Sussex
Paul Ainsworth at Number Six, Padstow, Cornwall
Thackeray's, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Locks Brasserie, Dublin
No new stars in Scotland or Wales
Gauthier Soho, Soho
Coworth Park, Ascot, Surrey
The Olive Branch and Beech House, Clipsham, Lincolnshire
Read's, Faversham, Kent
Sharrow Bay Country House, Ullswater, Cumbria
Auberge du Lac, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
No deletions in Scotland, Wales or Ireland
BIB GOURMAND ADDITIONS
Made in Camden, Camden Town
Brasserie Zédel, Soho
Princess of Shoreditch, Shoreditch
Bistro Union, Clapham Common
Corner Room, Bethnal Green
Royal Oak, Swindon, Wiltshire
Joseph Benjamin, Chester
White Oak, Cookham, Berkshire
The Forester, Donhead-St- Andrew, Wiltshire
Three Mariners, Oare, Kent
Chequers, Gedney Dyke, Lincolnshire
Quince Tree, Stonor, Oxfordshire
Hermitage Rd, Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Mark Jordan at the Beach, Beaumont, Channel Islands
Pheasant at Keyston, Cambridgeshire
Create, Leeds, West Yorkshire
Plough Inn, Longparish, Hampshire
Victoria Inn, Perranuthnoe, Cornwall
Horse & Groom, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire
Broad Chare, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear
David Kennedy's River Cafe, North Shields, Tyne and Wear
Ibérico World Tapas, Nottingham
Kota, Porthleven, Cornwall
Gunton Arms, Thorpe Market, Norfolk
Apple Tree Inn, West Pennard, Somerset
The Ethicurean, Wrington, Somerset
Le Langhe, York, North Yorkshire
Hawthorn, Benderloch, Argyll and Bute
Restaurant at Kailzie Gardens, Peebles, Borders
Courthouse, Carrickmacross, Monaghan
Deasy's, Clonakilty, Cork
For a full list of Michelin-starred restaurants and Bib Gourmands in Great Britain and Ireland, see www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/michelin
COMMENTS FROM THE WINNERS
I realise that I'm not the easiest person to work for, as I make the team work really hard, but I hope this has made it all worthwhile. I've never set my sights on two stars, but now it is here, it's great.
Michael Wignall, executive chef, Michael Wignall at the Latymer, Bagshot, Surrey
We are speechless here at Sketch. The day has been incredibly hectic as we weren't expecting the results until next week. We are honoured, humbled, thrilled and excited all in one.
Sinead Mallozzi, chief executive, Sketch, London
I'm elated - it's great for the business and the team. Having only been here since February, for me this year was about turning the business around, getting the team in place and settling down so we can drive it even harder next year. But you receive a star when they give you one and if you're good enough, you'll get it.
Timothy Allen, head chef, Launceston Place, London
It's an absolutely fantastic title to achieve. A Michelin star is the holy grail of the restaurant world and represents real recognition for the entire team here at Alimentum who have all worked incredibly hard to maintain exceptional standards at every service.
Mark Poynton, chef-proprietor, Alimentum, Cambridge
I was completely oblivious to it, filleting my fish as usual, until I got a call from my PR agent who then sent me the link to the Michelin website. I was really happy to sit among the eight restaurants getting a star in London - it's a good, strong group and I'm really happy for all of them.
Alyn Williams, chef-patron, Alyn Williams at the Westbury, London
I completely underestimated how much fuss there'd be made about this and that it would feel so big. I'm not really from the trade and just walked in from the street and opened a restaurant just over a year ago. It wasn't in my mind at all that I would get a star so soon - it's fantastic and will enable us to improve what we do.
Mikael Jonsson, chef-proprietor, Hedone, London
It has been the most bizarre - but best - day of my life. It started with discovering that the five fridges at the restaurant were under water following three days of torrential rain in the North-east. Unfortunately we have lost a lot of stock and we are not going to be able to open the restaurant tonight, but we shall reopen tomorrow. Receiving a Michelin star is just unbelievable.
James Close, chef-proprietor, Raby Hunt, Summerhouse, County Durham
After holding a coveted Michelin star for 15 consecutive years, we are disappointed and somewhat surprised. The long administration period of Sharrow Bay has been unsettling for some time - we can only think that this uncertainty has been the reason for our omission this year. [New owner] James Caan is committed to continuing with the tradition of gastronomy and warm hospitality that has been Sharrow Bay's trademark for the past 64 years and has every confidence in the existing team.
Andrew King, general manager, Sharrow Bay, Ullswater, Cumbria
REBECCA BURR ON…
We found really well crafted and vibrant food at Sketch and much more harmonious flavours this time. It's as imaginative and daring as it always has been but on a much more consistent level now.
Michael Wignall at the Latymer He is the true essence of what a two-star chef is. There is personality in signature dishes, the flavours seamlessly marry together and there's real confidence and a tremendous level of finesse in his cooking.
L'Enclume Simon Rogan has made the most dramatic change towards two stars in the past year. The food is very textural and harmonious and although it looks quite simple on the plate, there's a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes.