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Two new two-stars and eight one-stars for England from Michelin

27 September 2012 by
Two new two-stars and eight one-stars for England from Michelin

Michael Wignall (pictured) described the news on receiving two Michelin stars at Pennyhill Park hotel in Bagshot, Surrey, as "pretty fantastic".

He and Simon Rogan at L'Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria, were the only two chefs in England, outside of London, to be upgraded from one to two Michelin stars in the new Great Britain and Ireland Michelin guide 2013.

Wignall, who arrived at Pennyhill Park five years ago, said he knew that something might be in the offing as the 50-seat restaurant - Michael Wignall at the Latymer - had received more visits than usual from the Michelin inspectors during the past year.

"I realised that I'm not the easiest person to work for, as I make the team work really hard, but I hope this has made all the work worthwhile," he explained. "I've never set my sights on two stars, but now it is here, it's great."

Eight restaurants across England are tonight celebrating receiving one Michelin star. They are:

Bath Priory, Bath (previously held a star from 1999 to 2009)
Hinds Head, Bray, Berkshire
Alimentum, Cambridge
Raby Hunt, Summerhouse, Darlington
Red Lion Freehouse, East Chisenbury, Wiltshire
Restaurant Tristan, Horsham, West Sussex
Paul Ainsworth at Number Six, Padstow, Cornwall
Thackeray's, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent (held a star from 2003 to 2004)

James Close, the chef-proprietor of Raby Hunt, said that he was in a state of shock after receiving confirmation from Michelin headquarters that he had won a star.

"It has been the most bizarre, but best day of my life," he told Caterer and Hotelkeeper. "It started with discovering that the five fridges at the restaurant were under water following three days of torrential rain in the North-east. Unfortunately we have lost a lot of stock and we are not going to be able to open the restaurant tonight, but we shall reopen tomorrow."

Close, who is supported in the kitchen by just one chef - Ryan Bunker - opened the 25-seat Raby Hunt three years ago, with backing from his father. It was initially a bistro, but Close, who is largely self-taught, later decided to focus on fine dining.

"Receiving a Michelin star is just unbelievable", he added.

Meanwhile, five restaurants and hotels in England experienced disappointment on hearing they had lost their Michelin stars. They include Coworth Park, near Ascot, Berkshire; the Olive Branch and Beech House, Clipsham, Lincolnshire; Read's, Faversham, Kent; Sharrow Bay, Ullswater, Cumbria; and Auberge du Lac, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

The deletion of the star at Sharrow Bay, which it had held continuously for 17 years, has come about following a 16-month period of uncertainty for the iconic country house hotel following the collapse into administration of its former owner, Von Essen Hotels.

Andrew King, the hotel's general manager, said: "We are obviously disappointed not to be recognised by the guide this year; disappointed and somewhat surprised as executive head chef Colin Akrigg has been at the helm of the kitchen for all of this period, and has been employed at Sharrow Bay for over 40 years, along with head chef Mark Teasdale, who has been employed for over 12 years.

"Our philosophy about food, our relationship with our suppliers and our dedication to giving our loyal guests an exceptional classical culinary experience has never wavered and is as strong today as it was when Francis Coulson and Brian Sack were steering the ship.

"The long administration period of Sharrow Bay has been unsettling for some time. We can only think that this uncertainty has been the reason for our omission this year. Thankfully that issue is now resolved and Sharrow Bay is back in private hands. The hotel has a new future with a new lease presently being negotiated with the landlord, which will allow the necessary investment and development into the hotel to take place."

Sharrow Bay, which was bought out of administration in August by Hamilton Bradshaw, the private equity company belonging to former Dragons' Den star, James Caan, is now undergoing a refurbishment programme.

King added: "It is regrettable that Michelin has taken this decision now but this does not detract from what Sharrow Bay continues to offer. along with many new exciting initiatives and promotions in the following months."

Michelin releases 2013 guide to Great Britain and Ireland early >>

New Michelin Bib Gourmands for 38 restaurants >>

Ireland gains two new Michelin-starred restaurants >>

By Janet Harmer

E-mail your comments to Janet Harmer here.

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