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Stars come out for casual dining style

02 March 2006
Stars come out for casual dining style

Michelin's guide to France dished out only one new three-star award this year, but it was the recognition of a more casual style of dining that really caused a stir.

Olivier Roellinger at the Maisons de Bricourt in Cancale, Brittany, was the lucky recipient of Michelin's coveted three-star status. Famed for his use of spice and seafood, Roellinger has held two stars for around 15 years and was considered long overdue for a third.

"They've made him wait but he deserves this. He's a really dedicated guy," said Mark Askew, executive head chef of Gordon Ramsay Holdings and a former employee of Roellinger.

Six restaurants won two stars for the first time, including Lucas Carton's new venture, Senderens in Paris and La Table de Joël Robuchon, also in the French capital.

New one-star awards were given to 50 French restaurants including Joël Robuchon's Monte Carlo eaterie and L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Paris. Both restaurants were also tipped for two stars in next year's guide.

Three-Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal said Michelin's recognition of L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon represented a "real shift" in world gastronomy. "It shows the public want to eat good food but that they like to eat in more relaxed and convivial surroundings," he said.

Jason Atherton, head chef of the one-Michelin-starred Maze in London, also felt this year's results marked a departure for the red guide.

"The award of two stars to Robuchon's Table restaurant sets a whole new benchmark for chefs around the world," he said. "It shows that you don't have to have a boutique restaurant, employ twice as many staff as guests, offer a 6,000-bin wine list and cover every table with a starched tablecloth. It really bucks the fine-dining trend and what chefs believe they have to do to get Michelin stars."

It wasn't all good news, however, with the once three-starred Tour d'Argent in Paris slipping from last year's two stars to just one.

"This restaurant used to be the crème de la crème of French cooking," said Marcus Wareing, head chef at the one-Michelin star Pétrus restaurant in London. "It shows that you've got to move on and keep reinventing yourself if you're going to keep the accolades."

Twenty-two one-star establishments lost their award, excluding moves or changes of ownership. Among the two-star restaurants tipped to win a third were Anne-Sophie Pic's Pic restaurant in Vence, and Pré Catelan and Les Ambassadeurs, both in Paris. France now boasts 26 three-star restaurants, 70 two-star eateries and 425 one-star establishments.

Go to www.michelin.co.uk for a full list of results.

By Jessica Gunn

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