There are only four UK restaurants singled out for attention as "rising stars" in the 2009 Michelin Guide to Great Britain & Ireland.
Three are tipped for future two-Michelin-star glory, and one for potential three-Michelin-star acclaim: Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London.
The prospective two-Michelin contenders include two chef-restaurateurs with eponymous restaurants who were earmarked in the same way in the 2008 guide: London-based Tom Aikens, whose restaurant is in Chelsea, and Cornwall-based Nathan Outlaw whose restaurant is in the Fowey in the Marina Villa hotel.
Also being tipped as a prospective two-star is another London-based chef, Brett Graham, head chef at Notting Hill's Ledbury restaurant.
Speaking to Caterersearch, Graham said: "About three different chefs rang me on Friday to let me know the news, but I didn't believe them.
"It's a great credit to the team, absolutely. I didn't expect for anything to happen for at least a couple of years. My immediate reaction now, is ‘oh shit, we've got to get better!' But just because we've got a ‘rising two-star' it doesn't mean we'll get the second star next year. It's not automatic."
Both Aikens and Outlaw told Caterersearch that they were philosophical about not making the move up to the higher two-star level this year, despite already being tipped to do so in last year's guide.
Aikens said: "I won't pretend that I am not disappointed about not moving up the Michelin ladder to two stars this year, but I'm pleased that we have kept the rising two-star status. 2009 is going to be all about hard work, staying focused and satisfying our customers."
Outlaw added: "I feel like I've been holding my breath all year and of course I was disappointed, particularly for the lads in the kitchen and front-of-house, but you never know what Michelin are thinking.
"We've just got to get stuck in because the only way I can go with my cooking, anyway, is pushing forward. I'd do that whether I had a star, two stars or none, because that's what I want to do. I've had a good vibe from the inspectors when they've eaten here."
By Joanna Wood
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