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Michelin 2019: how the guide is embracing change

02 October 2018 by
Michelin 2019: how the guide is embracing change

The most shocking thing Michelin did this week may have been a tweet.

Opening with Brat - set on the first floor of a former strip club - and ending with Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs - at the back of a hotdog diner - this year's guide pushed the boundaries of what Michelin is willing to accept from a location. There was also a fully fledged embrace for the Great British pub - sites like the Hand & Flowers and the Star Inn once made waves just for appearing in the guide - this year at least four new pubs made their way into the red book.

Moments after heading into the guide with two stars at her London restaurant Core, Clare Smyth told The Caterer: "There were lots of small, little places out in the countryside which I think is phenomenal for food in Britain. It just goes to show people doing it for themselves, these little guys with little restaurants and pubs across the country, it's phenomenal, it's not just London anymore." Asked about Bubbledog's inclusion, Claude Bosi of Bibendum added: "I was really not expecting it but I think it's fantastic because - and that's what I like about the guide you know? Because they have covered the diversity of it… from Moor Hall to Bubbledog and Clare of course, they've done a bit of every angle."

Meanwhile a stretching of the cuisine styles receiving plaudits from the guide further pushed the boundaries. While beloved, Sabor's Catalan style is a far cry from the supposed Michelin template; Ikoyi's one star offers an olive branch to an often-overlooked West African food style. Ichigo Ichie's one star recognised the pedigree of Japanese food in Ireland, carrying the torch from Kei Pilz's Shiro which closed in 2001.

So what's changed? For a start, the faces behind the Michelin mask. Sources behind the guide emphasised how new much of the senior team is, including Gwendal Poullennec, who made London his first revelation after being appointed as international director of the little red book. Asked what had impressed her most Rebecca Burr, the guide's editor, told The Caterer: "The variety of places that have gained a star has been wonderful this year."

Reform is in the air at Michelin - from the launch events which are expected to run for years to come, to the countries included in the portfolio of guides and the styles championed in each country.

Of course there were still black spots - some have claimed many of the UK's two-star restaurants operate at what counts for a three-star level in other countries. There were also no new entries for Scotland or Wales, and only one or two additions for the north of England. But - albeit gradually - the immovable object of Michelin may be giving way to the unstoppable force of Britain and Ireland's nuanced, multifaceted culinary world.

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