‘This is a blessing. It’s special. I know we’re going to come out of lockdown even stronger,’ Andy Beynon says.

michelin star

A global pandemic during which restaurants have been closed for months on end is a strange time to be handing out awards for fine cooking.

But Michelin was adamant in its desires to celebrate British and Irish hospitality this year and announced a reel of new accolades on Monday night, its inspectors having been busily dining between lockdowns.

“We want to shine a light on our industry, to keep people talking about it in the media and remind everyone of what we have, and to bring news of our great restaurants to a global audience,” said Michelin.

“And it’s not just the restaurants themselves. By celebrating our wonderful industry we also recognise all those who depend upon it and are part of the supply chain, from bakers and butchers, to farmers and fishermen.”

New stars

In Michelin’s 2021 guide, two new three star restaurants were revealed – Core by Clare Smyth, and Hélène Darroze at The Connaught – and a host of two and one star establishments were given the spotlight at a time when it is needed more than ever. The most impressive of all the year’s graduates might be Andy Beynon’s young London restaurant Behind, a diminutive spot in London Fields, Hackney, which was awarded a coveted star after trading for just 20 days.

Beynon tells i: “On reflection, what we’ve managed to achieve – a star in 20 days of service – is completely mad. It’s something we didn’t expect. We cooked for 10 days, locked down, then cooked for 10 more before closing.

“Then again, it’s a credit to me, coming in with 15 years experience in this trade working with and learning from the best chefs in the country.

I learned my craft. “And it’s a credit to my team especially, the guys who stuck with me and worked so hard. This has been tough physically, mentally, and financially, so it’s awesome to be rewarded and this will really help when we reopen.

Glasgow win

“This is a blessing. It’s special. I know we’re going to come out of lockdown even stronger.”

Beynon has become one of 17 new Michelin starred restaurants in the UK. New awards span from country boltholes in Somerset to classic dining halls in Yorkshire estates.

North of the border, Glasgow has earned its first Michelin star in 18 years by way of the chef Lorna McNee, who took over Cail Bruich in spring 2020.

North of the border, Glasgow has earned its first Michelin star in 18 years by way of the chef Lorna McNee, who took over Cail Bruich in spring 2020.

McNee, a former Scottish Chef of the Year and champion on the BBC’s Great British Menu, says Glasgow is strengthening as a culinary destination.

New start

She says: “We have a very good food scene. But it’s been an incredibly tough time and we do need a push, we need support. I’m glad inspectors have been out and I hope the awards help bring things back to normality.

“I’ve been here for eight months now and have dreams to keep improving. Who knows what’s next. For now, I want to focus on
championing Scottish produce.

Our shellfish, our crab and langoustines, is the best in the world. So I’ll carry on developing dishes and when we reopen we’ll be
even better.”

For now, Michelin’s latest accolades bestowed on British and Irish restaurants have proven to be welcome respite amid the turmoil and uncertainty encircling hospitality.

When dining rooms eventually relaunch, restaurants such as Beynon’s and McNee’s will be waiting, starred up and willing.

Michelin Star requirements: how to earn the culinary world’s top award

Michelin Stars are the culinary world’s greatest status symbol, but what does it take to get a raving review from the famed restaurant guide?

Michelin stars for excellence are handed out by French tyre company Michelin annually in the Red Guide, a reference book for restaurants and hotels.

There’s no knowing exactly how restaurants are selected to receive a star. The publication is notoriously secretive about its selection criteria.

Anonymous inspectors can turn up at any time to review a restaurant. They do not identify themselves and eat and pay as any diner would.

It is down to their judgement whether an establishment receives a star or loses one, so if there are any Michelin Star requirements set in stone, it’s to be at the top of your game consistently. One poor meal could cost you the chance to earn a Michelin Star.

While the exact Michelin Star requirements are unknown, here’s a rough guide that provides a decent idea of what it takes.

How to earn one Michelin Star

According to the guide, one star is usually awarded to places that are worth visiting if you’re in the area.

It’s worth noting that Michelin Stars are awarded solely based on food quality. Inspectors take no interest in the restaurant’s appearance, atmosphere or service.

In order to earn a Michelin Star, you must produce consistently high quality dishes. Chefs should be able to produce all dishes to the highest standard and show a “mastery” of their trade.

Likewise, your menu should have personality that distinguishes your restaurant from other establishments. The Michelin guide aims to highlight standout restaurants, so you’re unlikely to feature if your French cuisine is no different to the French cuisine on offer up the street.

According to former Michelin inspector turned leaker Pascal Rémy, you first need to get on to Michelin’s “to review” radar in order to earn a star. This list is compiled from past reviews on local blogs and publications.

The one Michelin Star club isn’t as exclusive as you might think. In 2016, the guide included 2,114 one star restaurants.

How to get two Michelin Stars

Things get a little more difficult from here. The guide states that two Michelin Star restaurants are worth deviating from your
planned route to visit.

In France, the country with the most Michelin Stars, there are 80 two star establishments, compared to 492 one stars.

The two Michelin Star requirements are much the same. Inspectors will still focus on the taste of a dish. However, they are also likely to consider the quality of the ingredients used. Many two star chefs source unique and rare ingredients to add to their dishes in order to provide something that diners can’t get anywhere else as a way of maintaining their rating.

Likewise, you must also step up your consistency. The odd kitchen mishap is unlikely to cause any major issues in a one star establishment. However, it might do in a two star restaurant.

One star restaurants are only inspected every two years, but two star restaurants are supposedly checked monthly.

How to get three Michelin Stars

Michelin only award three stars to restaurants that are worth going out of your way to eat at. Unsurprisingly, very few earn such a prestigious rating.

While earning one and two stars largely comes down to whether you’re able to please a particular inspector on the day, entering the elite club of three Michelin Star restaurants requires the approval of a number of inspectors.

Once again, the requirements are largely the same. However, food quality, ingredients and chef technique must be exquisite.

Likewise, according to Rémy, reputation also plays a part in the three star selection process.

Restaurants and chefs that have been involved in scandals or have questionable backgrounds are unlikely to be awarded the guide’s highest rating.

The former inspector points to famous German chef Alfonso Schuhbeck, who was previously accused of money laundering, as an example.

Creativity plays a big part in the selection process. Inspectors are looking for unique experiences, so creative chefs that start new food trends are usually top of the pile for a third star.

Heston Blumenthal is a notable example.

Michelin Star requirements: is Michelin an exclusive club?

Michelin is often wrongly branded as a fine-dining guide. However, that isn’t the case.

Yes, many of the included restaurants do charge huge sums of money for fancy meals. However, there are no rules for types of cuisine or price of food where the Red Guide is concerned.

Last year’s edition saw a Singapore food truck handed a Michelin Star. Diners can grab a meal from HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle food truck for approximately £1. In return, you receive a dish that Michelin inspectors deemed to be among the world’s best.

Singapore’s Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, another food stall, also earned itself membership to the Michelin Star club.

Likewise, Britain’s best fish and chip shop, Kingfisher Fish and Chips in Plymouth, has been tipped to earn a star in this year’s edition.

Being trained by a Michelin Starred chef, having a popular inner-city eatery and serving up plates of le plateau de fromages affinés might make earning a star a little easier, but it definitely isn’t required.

(Article source: Various)

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