Tuesday, 25 February 2014 | MYT 1:00 PM

Controversy brews over latest Michelin France guide

French chef bestowed three stars by the French gastronomic Michelin, Arnaud Lallement (foreground), poses on Feb 24, 2014 in Paris. - Photo AFP

French chef bestowed three stars by the French gastronomic Michelin, Arnaud Lallement (foreground), poses on Feb 24, 2014 in Paris. - Photo AFP

Chef Arnaud Lallement confirmed to have won three stars.

AFTER being leaked a week before, Michelin inspectors confirmed on Feb 24 that a restaurant in the Champagne region of France has become the country’s 27th restaurant to be inducted into the exclusive three-starred club.

L’Assiette Champenoise in Reims, helmed by second-generation chef Arnaud Lallement, has been promoted from two to three stars in the 2014 edition of the guide book for offering a “particularly creative and strikingly contemporary selection of cuisine”.

But the latest addition to the three star club has been somewhat overshadowed by an influential food writer in France who penned an article that kicked off a small storm of controversy, calling into question the red guide’s relevance.

In a column published in Le Point, columnist Gilles Pudlowski sharpened his pen and lashed out at Michelin for having “lost the plot”.

His main beef? That the restaurant guide – once revered as the incontestable authority and arbiter of good food taste – has been straying from its original modus operandi and making “bizarre” choices by favouring young chefs over French stalwarts like Jean-François Piège, a well-known celebrity chef whose eponymously named restaurant in Paris remains stuck at two stars.

Indeed, the red book makes no secret of the fact that the latest edition is well-represented by young talent and highlights the fact that seven starred chefs are under 30. That includes Oscar Garcia, 25, from the Table d’Uzes in Gard – one of the youngest chefs in France to boast a Michelin star.

This seemingly new direction and the growing grumble about Michelin’s irrelevance begs for comparison with another ranking that has exerted an impressive influence in the world of high gastronomy in a short time, having pitched itself as an alternative to the red guide.

While Michelin inspectors hand out stars purely based on the food presented on their plate, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards which began in 2002, ranks eateries based on the entire dining experience, including decor, service and food.

Likewise, while the Michelin system has been criticised for being staid and boring, rewarding traditional, white table-clothed restaurants, the World’s 50 Best could be described as the zeitgeist of world gastronomy, highlighting young, dynamic chefs on the vanguard of food – which could, perhaps, explain, Michelin’s efforts to shine the spotlight on young French talent.

“This new generation of young chefs trained in the finest kitchens, and they do not hesitate to launch their own restaurants, often choosing small and relaxed establishments to start out on their own: this illustrates a changing of the guard in French restaurants,” reads the release.

The Michelin guide for France 2014 will be released Feb 28 for €25 (RM126). The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards takes place in London April 28. – AFP Relaxnews

Related story:

France gets new three Michelin-starred restaurant

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , chef Arnaud Lallement , Michelin France guide , L Assiette Champenoise restaurant


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