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French Michelin Guide sees influx of new stars

Yesterday’s launch of the 2024 Michelin Guide for France saw 62 restaurants gain stars, bringing the country’s total of starred establishments up to 639.

Overall, some 52 restaurants received their first stars, just under half (23) of which were new openings. Among these was Espadon, Eugénie Béziat’s new spot at the Ritz in Paris, following in the colossal footsteps of Auguste Escoffier, who was the hotel’s first head chef. The guide notes that Béziat’s cooking “skilfully blends reminiscences of her African childhood with Mediterranean influences acquired over her culinary career. The result is both surprising and convincing, thanks to dishes that sensitively combine smoky, tangy and roasted notes”.

As for new Two Star spots, there were eight in total, three of which were in Paris. Martino Ruggieri (who previously worked alongside Yannick Alléno at Pavillon Ledoyen) followed up last year’s achievement of a first star for his Maison Ruggieri with a second, and L’Orangerie at the Four Seasons George V also hit the Two Star mark. Outside of the French capital, Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac in Monaco, having reopened after a two year renovation, received Two Stars for a menu that “brilliantly navigates between a pure-bred Gallic culinary line-up and more modern recipes”.

Two restaurants received the top honour of three stars, Fabien Ferré’s La Table du Castellet (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) and Jérôme Banctel’s Le Gabriel – La Réserve Paris (Paris), bringing France’s total up to 30. Ferré’s achievement is especially impressive given that he only took over the kitchen as executive chef of La Table du Castellet in February last year (having been deputy at the restaurant for seven years prior), making the 35-year-old the youngest chef in France to run a three star kitchen.

Perhaps surprisingly, having lost their third stars with the launch of the last guide, Guy Savoy’s Paris restaurant and Christopher Coutanceau’s in La Rochelle did not regain three star status, remaining at two – a further reminder of the chasm that exists between Michelin inspectors’ criteria for two versus three stars.

The 2024 Michelin Sommelier Award was actually won by two people. Xavier Thuizat, who is both restaurant manager and overseer of the 2,300 bins of L’Écrin in Paris (the guide notes that the one star restaurant overturns “the traditional order”, in that “the choice of wine determines that of the food”), and Magali Delalex, head sommelier of La Table de l’Ours in Val-d’Isère, described as “contagiously enthusiastic” and “an ambassador of Savoie wines”.

Last month, the launch of the 2024 Michelin Guide for Great Britain & Ireland saw a number of establishments gain stars. Despite the growing number of starred restaurants in the UK and Ireland, the two countries still firmly lag behind France when it comes to their respective totals.

It should also be noted that whereas London rules the roost when it comes to Michelin-starred joints this side of the channel, in France there is a somewhat greater geographical spread beyond the capital – of the total of 534 One Star restaurants, 95 are in Paris. This discrepancy is not just indicative of the London-centric nature of the UK hospitality scene, but is also a consequence of the guide’s French origins, and the fact that it notoriously favours restaurants that adhere to classical French cooking techniques. However, the inclusion of restaurants such as Béziat’s is indicative of a shift in this culture.

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