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Michelin 2017: chefs' reaction to new and retained stars

03 October 2016 by
Michelin 2017: chefs' reaction to new and retained stars

Following the revelation that 18 restaurants have won new stars in the latest Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland, with one new two-star also being announced, The Caterer gauged the chefs' reaction to the news.

As the sole restaurant to be newly awarded two Michelin stars, the Raby Hunt's chef-patron James Close was surfing a wave of adrenaline as he took the news in.

"I started seven years ago next week as a chef. We got the first star after three years and it took us another four years to get two," he said.

"I know it is a cliche but you never try and cook for awards like this. We know that if we get better and better, things will come. So that is all I try and do every day - to try and get better and better as a chef, learning new techniques, and going and visiting restaurants."

The chef, who is completely self-taught added: "Seven years ago, I didn't even know what winning a Michelin star involved, so now to be stood here and to have two stars and to be the only one this year, it's massive. It's massive for the North East. There has never been a two-star before in the North East, in County Durham so we are putting it on the map."

Meanwhile, Adam Byatt of Trinity in London's Clapham Common, which received a new star said: ""We have worked very hard this year to try and make sure that we are being the best that we possibly can. To be endorsed by Michelin is massive. We have built our business up over ten years and it is a really robust business and then to have this on top of it is really great. I really feel for the team and the suppliers and my business partner. It is not just me, there are an awful lot of people around me that make this happen and I am very grateful to them."

It was a sweet moment for John Williams, executive chef of the Ritz, which surprisingly has never previously held a star. Following a warm reaction from his fellow chefs when the news was announced, Williams said: "It's the 110th anniversary of the Ritz this year and it's a real accolade and we are just over the moon. It is something that you work for and I believed that we we were good enough and I just wondered why [we didn't have one]. And we need a star because if you are a world class hotel, you need to have a star.

"We have been cooking the same, we haven't changed. The Ritz tells us what to cook because of the building and the style. I think it is very important that it remains classical but also that it remains relevant for today's modern diner. But I have got very good people and I have had very good people for a long time. I haven't got the answer [as to why we have won it now] but I have always known that the cooking was good enough so the only thing I can take from it was consistency has got better."

Simon Bonwick, chef-patron of the 18-cover Crown at Burchetts Green near Maidenhead, saw his restaurant win a star for the first time. He said: "We work really hard, 14 hours a day, and it is a massive surprise.

"I was told we got 12 visits by Michelin but our place is near a college so we always get singles and we weren't aware of it. We are only 18 covers and I can't do anything more because I am on my own. I am really cheesed because I have to get back to the kitchen today - I have to put a stock on. Alain and Michel Roux Sr are my mentors. I run the restaurant with my eldest son is Dean, who is 26, and he runs the front of house. The Rouxs nurtured him, along with Tom Kerridge and William Drabble. I started the restaurant three years ago on my own and then I got really ill and he had to come back and run the family business with a heavy heart. This is the result of him being with me for a year. He told me politely and gently that if I should refine my food and bring the portion sizes down, and I did."

Speaking about the new star for the Crown, Tom Kerridge, who himself retained his two Michelin stars at the Hand and Flowers in Marlow added: "The world is a better place with Simon Bonwick in it - it's amazing and I so happy for him."

Forest Side in Cumbria won a star within eight months of launching. Wildsmith Hotels owner Andrew Wildsmith, who owns Forest Side, said: "The team at Forest Side have been on an amazing journey since we opened. We hope that people agree that what we have created is fast becoming another shining beacon of culinary excellence in the North of England.'

Forest Side's head chef Kevin Tickle, added: "Being awarded a Michelin star is totally unexpected, I really didn't think I would be in the running this year. I can't describe how over the moon I am… it's been an amazing journey so far… I couldn't be prouder; this is a real team effort. The food we create is a reflection our collective passion for the amazing larder we are lucky to call home."

Meanwhile, Gidleigh Park retained its two-Michelin stars after Michael Wignall joined the restaurant in January.

He said: "We're delighted to have been awarded two stars by Michelin, arguably the most revered restaurant guide among chefs, restaurant critics and our guests. Since arriving at Gidleigh Park in January this year, the team has worked tirelessly and it's great to see their efforts recognised with two stars from the Michelin Guide."

And as the only restaurant in Scotland to be added to the Michelin Guide 2017, with a Bib Gourmand (which recognises good quality value cooking at less than £28), head chef of the Scran and Scallie, James Chapman, commented: "We're incredibly proud to be awarded a Bib Gourmand and once again prove that Scottish pub food can be excellent. From the outset we wanted to create a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, serving first class food. This award is proof of that and is testament to the continued enthusiasm and passion of the whole team."

Chef Tom Kitchin, who co-owns the Scran and Scallie with Castle Terrace chef-patron Dominic Jack, said: "We've always strived to be a unique, quality gastropub showcasing Scottish pub food as some of the best in the UK. Our priority has always been superior quality food and excellent customer service. It's a massive achievement and honour to be recognised by the Michelin Guide, and we're looking forward to continuing to share our passion for great Scottish food and hospitality."

Michelin names 18 new one star restaurants as Fat Duck regains its three-star status >>

Michelin removes stars from 16 restaurants >>

Michelin awards 24 new Bib Gourmands >>

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