Michelin last week released its 2012 guide to Great Britain and Ireland, awarding 15 new stars, with the big winners including Tom Kerridge and Sat Bains. Kerstin Kühn spoke to the guide's new editor Rebecca Burr
The Great British pub was elevated to new heights last week when Michelin's 2012 Great Britain and Ireland guide promoted the Hand & Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, to two-star-status.
The award makes Tom and Beth Kerridge the first publicans in the world to hold this exclusive accolade, and according to Michelin's new editor, Rebecca Burr, it's all thanks to Tom's dedication and accomplished cooking.
"He's a great chef; he's a hands-on chef and I don't think there are many times when he isn't there," she told Caterer and Hotelkeeper in an exclusive interview.
"He has mastered the classics and knows when to leave things alone. He doesn't crowd his plates and elevates his food to a whole new level."
With three more pubs - the Black Swan in Yorkshire, Sir Charles Napier in Buckinghamshire, and the Butcher's Arms in Worcestershire - also winning stars, Michelin now features more than 550 pubs in its collection of UK guides, including 13 with stars, a testament to how far things have come in Britain.
"The pubs are fantastic," enthused Burr. "There are still bad pubs out there but the majority now are good and offer diners the flexibility and informality that they want as well as great cooking at good prices."
Having worked with Michelin for 12 years, Burr took over from former editor Derek Bulmer after his retirement late last year and this is the first guide with her in charge. Its publication marked the second release for Michelin this year after the guide was moved forward from January to October to bring it inline with Michelin's other publications.
So how much of an impact did Burr want to make with her inaugural guide? "It's not about me and my impact," she said. "We observe what's going on and it's the chefs who make the news and set the trends, not us."
A case in point is Sat Bains, who also achieved his second star. On winning the award the chef said he was "absolutely blown away": "It is my 12th anniversary on this site and it's just proven that you must keep going and keep pushing. You've just got to keep believing."
Indeed Burr praised Bains for "adding a bit more focus to his original style". "He's a very accomplished chef but we've seen an extra confidence in the past few months and he really deserves it," she said.
However, she added that it's not a given that chefs who hold one star will automatically progress to two: "Two stars puts restaurants in quite a select group around the world. These awards are taken very seriously and at two stars chefs are at a world-class level."
Again there was no change in the three-star stratosphere but Burr argued that with no deletions at the top level, the industry ought to celebrate. "The standard is going up and up across the board and there are chefs even on the one-star level, some young boys and girls who are coming on the scene, who could progress to three stars in the future."
the biggest shock
Elsewhere there were the usual omissions - Bruno Loubet and Simon Rogan, who'd widely been tipped for two stars, for instance - and possibly the biggest shock was young chef Will Holland losing his star at La Bécasse in Ludlow.
"It's a sad day for us," said Alan Murchison, chief executive of the 10 in 8 Fine Dining Group, which owns La Bécasse.
"I never thought I would be having this conversation with Will. He is one of the most talented chefs I have ever worked with and the restaurant is doing phenomenally well. It's a setback but we have to keep our heads down and carry on."
On the whole the 2012 Michelin guide to Great Britain and Ireland reflects the continued improvement across the industry. It now lists 151 starred establishments, more than ever before, and 129 Bib Gourmands, restaurants serving great food at moderate prices.
"Good food is so widespread now and we're really spoilt for choice," concluded Burr. "It's never been more exciting."
the 2012 guide to great britain and ireland
New two-star restaurants
â- The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
New one-star restaurants
â- North Road, Clerkenwell
â- Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Knightsbridge
â- Hakkasan, Mayfair
â- Pollen Street Social, Mayfair
â- Coworth Park, Ascot, Berkshire
â- Sir Charles Napier, Chinnor, Buckinghamshire
â- Butchers Arms, Eldersfield, Worcestershire
â- The Pass, Horsham, West Sussex
â- Tassili at the Grand Hotel, St Helier, Jersey
â- The Black Swan, Oldstead, North Yorkshire
â- Driftwood, Portscatho, Cornwall
â- The Checkers, Montgomery, Montgomeryshire
â- Castle Terrace, Edinburgh
â- Glenapp Castle, Ballantrae, South Ayrshire
â- Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond, Balloch West, Dunbartonshire
Two stars to one star
â- Pied Á Terre, Fitzrovia
One star to no stars
â- Tom Aikens, Chelsea (closed)
â- Bingham Restaurant at the Bingham Hotel, Richmond
â- The Samling, Ambleside, Cumbria
â- La Bécasse, Ludlow, Shropshire
â- Ynyshir Hall, Machynlleth, Powys
â- Plumed Horse, Leith, Edinburgh
â- Champany Inn, Linlithgow, West Lothian
New Bib Gourmands
â- Sushi Say, Willesden
â- Azou, Hammersmith
â- Fox & Grapes, Wimbledon
â- José, Bermondsey
â- Brawn, Bethnal Green
â- St John Bread and Wine, Spitalfields
â- Triphal, Southfields
â- Kateh, Bayswater & Maida Vale
â- Trishna, Regent's Park & Marylebone
â- Barrafina, Soho
â- Koya, Soho
â- da Polpo, Strand & Covent Garden
â- Opera Tavern, Strand & Covent Garden
â- Flinty Red, Bristol
â- The Joiners, Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire
â- Red Lion, East Haddon, Northamptonshire
â- Ingham Swan, Ingham, Norfolk
â- Anchor, Oxford, Oxfordshire
â- Untitled by Robert Wright, Penzance, Cornwall
â- Three Tuns, Romsey, Hampshire
â- Owens, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
â- Berkeley Arms, Wymondham, Leicestershire
â- Stravaigin, Glasgow
â- Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon, Powys
â- Chai St, Cardiff
â- Mint & Mustard, Cardiff
â- Fontana, Holywood, North Down
Republic of Ireland
â- Box Tree, Stepaside, Dublin
STARS IN THEIR EYES - WHAT THE WINNERS HAD TO SAY
"The fact that Michelin is awarding two stars to a pub means they are embracing British culture - it's the same as a two-star tapas bar in Spain. My cooking may be French but we use British ingredients, we are a British pub and serve ales and we have fish and chips on the menu at lunchtime - the only two-Michelin-starred fish and chips in the world!"
Tom Kerridge, chef proprietor, Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
"I found out from Simon Hulstone from the Elephant in Torquay at 12.05pm as I couldn't get on to the website. It's all a bit of a shock at the moment and it is only starting to sink in. I had no idea that we would be considered from something this great."
Chris Eden, head chef, the Restaurant at Driftwood, Portscatho, Cornwall
"I am very surprised, but it is team work obviously. We didn't really expect anything because we have been in business for such a small amount of time."
Stéphane Borie, chef proprietor, the Checkers, Montgomery
"It is fantastic news. It has been nearly four years of hard work that we are getting recognised for, and it certainly has come as a surprise. We have already had a glass of Champagne with the team to celebrate."
Adam Stokes, head chef at Glenapp Castle, Ballantrae, South Ayrshire
"We are absolutely over the moon. It's testament to everyone's hard work in all areas of the restaurant. We're very proud but now we've got to crack on, get our heads down and just do what we do again. It's an interesting start to a service!"
Ashley Palmer-Watts, executive chef, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London
"I'm absolutely gobsmacked. We had no idea that this was coming and it's not something we have ever strived for."
Elizabeth Winter, owner, the Butcher's Arms, Eldersfield, Worcestershire
"I am so thrilled and happy to be once again be a Michelin-starred chef. I now want to work really hard to maintain and go further with our service and cuisine. We have lots of new and exciting changes at Pollen Street Social and I want to show our customers that we can only get better."
Jason Atherton, chef proprietor, Pollen Street Social, London
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