Michelin Stars, food can be Excellent without them

Lamb Chops

I was in London on Sunday 26th February as I was visiting the UK to buy all my Asian and Indian ingredients for the 2012 season, as there is nowhere in Europe like the UK to buy these spices and herbs.

I bought the Sunday Times and it had an article by Kate Mansey ‘Michelin Star Wars.’

I found it rather amusing, yet, I felt it was as always out of touch and without any depth into what is really important in the Restaurant Industry, worldwide.

I however found Marcus Wareing’s statement, ‘If you can’t cope-get out of the kitchen’ extremely annoying as it was made in the context of Michelin Stars.

Kate Mansey’s opinion that Michelin Stars are the highest accolade in cooking, is so shallow and without substance, as in my humble opinion, the highest accolade any for any chef who runs his own business, is a happy and returning customer.

So many of my clients have asked me what is the best meal you have ever experienced, and I know they are expecting my answer to be a meal in a Michelin Starred property.

No, it was in fact a small family run restaurant in a little village called Villa St Maria where I was served a Potato Gnocchi  with a Ragù alla Bolognese and Tiramisu with Banana Ice Cream, it was superb, and I love would love to challenge Marcus Wareing to duplicate the meal, as my last two meals in his restaurants left much to be desired and I will definitely not be a returning customer.

I find it extremely sad that chefs are haunted by Michelin Reviewers and even more alarming lose track of why they have a restaurant, to make a living.

Right here in ruralFrancewe had a 1 Michelin Star Restaurant close last month, after losing a small fortune by a young chef.

I am not prepared to call him talented, as I only went there once and would not return. He was a young family man who needed to run a profitable business to support his family. The area had more than enough of a customer base, but he was overpriced and out of touch.

As is the case with so many Michelin Star chefs, it is a fact that they can not readapt to the economical changes and downgrade. In essence, they are not all the superstars they are made out to be.

I without any reservations state that the best meals I have experienced in my life, have never been in an award winning restaurant, but rather in the Yemanite Quarter just outside Jerusalem, Villa St Maria, in Italy, with a wine maker friend at his home in Cape Town, a little Indian Restaurant outside Durban and without any doubt, my Zulu Nanny’s Wild Spinach, Tomato and Chilli Stew with Pap which will always be the most memorable meal I have had in this life.

Why in heavens name have we not come up with a real food guide that caters for the general public. I would be surprised if more than 2% of the worlds population can afford to eat in a Michelin Starred Restaurant, it is outdated and in my opinion not what true chefing is all about.

As Raymond Blanc stated in the article, ‘Food can be Excellent without a Star.

I am not a big AA Gill fan, but for once I agree with his statement in the article;

‘The only thing that keeps them going is that chefs cleave to them as if they were the industry’s Oscars,’ he said ‘ What other bit of your life would you entrust to a tyre company? Apart from your tyres.

‘There’s a bigger problem with guides. It makes the experience worse because chefs work not for you but for some invisible bloke who will give them another star’

2 thoughts on “Michelin Stars, food can be Excellent without them

  1. Well said. A full restaurant is the best review. A lot of the time chefs forget who they are cooking for.

  2. It is about time the normal diner is thought of more often. We need to have chefs who concentrate on fresh, flavoursome and affordable food in these difficult times. In general it seems that the best value for money and well prepared meals are found in the Indian sector of restaurants.

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