A host of new restaurants were celebrating last week as Michelin unveiled this year's star results.
Chef Kenny Atkinson (pictured), whose House of Tides was awarded its first star, said the news signalled a new direction for the North as he congratulated Michael O'Hare, the avant-garde chef-proprietor of the Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds, which also picked up a star. Both restaurants opened last year.
Overall, Michelin 2016 listed two new two-star restaurants (Araki and Umu, both in London's Mayfair), and 15 new one-stars across the UK and Ireland.
Speaking to The Caterer, Atkinson said England's northern cities were changing and growing, becoming more interesting and ready to welcome Michelin stars as a result. He said: "I think the north has been overlooked for a long time, but it would be very unfair to say Michelin has ignored the north. I think they've been asking, is Newcastle or Leeds ready?
"I can only speak for Newcastle, but I'd say that the city is changing and growing, and it's a great place to be. It's very vibrant, and that gave us confidence to open in Newcastle. I think more success will follow across the north east in general."
Atkinson, who worked at starred establishments previously, said winning the star for his own restaurant was "sweeter".
He added: "It's hard to put into words. When you work in restaurants, and you cook a certain style of food, and it's expected, you're paid to achieve that. It's always been good to get a star, but if you look at the love we've had from our guests and on social media, it's been great."
Other relative newcomers to be recognised included London restaurant Portland, the Woodspeen in Newbury, and John's House in Leicestershire.
Elsewhere, Gravetye Manor in East Grinstead, West Sussex, also won a star. Head chef George Blogg, who was taking time off work to get married when he discovered he and his team had been recognised, said: "I'm very proud of every member of the Gravetye team and this accolade is testament to the effort we have all put in. I am also extremely grateful for the support from our owners and managing director Andrew Thomason, who have all shown great faith in me." Blogg joined the hotel last year.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Goring, the chief executive of the luxury Goring hotel in London's Victoria, said: "We're delighted and honoured to be recognised by Michelin for what we are trying to achieve. It's only taken 105 years. Every element of what [executive chef] Shay Cooper does is a study, and each piece of the whole must justify itself. Of course we are pleased, but most satisfying of all is the fact that we've received this fabulous accolade while resolutely focusing on one thing: delighting our guests." Cooper was appointed in August 2013.
In addition to 15 new stars, there were 13 deletions and 25 new Bib Gourmands. Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck in Bray was not listed among the three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the guide, but was not deleted. Michelin said it was "absent" from the guide because, following a temporary relocation to Australia, the restaurant did not reopen in time to be assessed.
New and fallen stars
The full list of new stars and deletions in the 2016 guide
Dining Room at the Goring
Carters of Moseley, Birmingham
Gravetye Manor, East Grinstead
The Man Behind the Curtain, Leeds
John's House, Mountsorrel
House of Tides, Newcastle
The Cellar, Anstruther
The Greenhouse, Dublin
England & the Channel Islands
Apicius (closing), Cranbrook
Tassili, St Helier, Jersey
Old Vicarage, Ridgeway
Stagg Inn, Kington
Castle Terrace, Edinburgh
Knockinaam Lodge, Stranraer
Three Chimneys, Isle of Skye
Bon Appetit, Dublin