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A Record 28 French Restaurants Receive Michelin 3-Stars

by Thomas Adamson
Tuesday Feb 6, 2018
The 2018 Michelin Guide
The 2018 Michelin Guide  (Source:AP Photo/Michel Euler)

A record 28 French restaurants were honored with the gastronomic world's most coveted prize Monday: a three-star rating in the Michelin Red Guide.

The unveiling of the industry's most closely guarded secret near Paris came amid great fanfare for French food - but also amid criticism that the elite index system needs rethinking after a top chef withdrew from the list citing the "huge pressure" and unwelcome scrutiny it brings.

The two new additions to the three-star club were Christophe Bacquie at the Castellet hotel and Marc Veyrat's La Maison des Bois, both in southern France. They cement France's place as the premier dining hub with the highest number of top-scoring restaurants in the world.

"It was a great year for gastronomy ... a huge win for Team France," Michelin Guides director Michael Ellis said.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe attended an event at the Seine Musicale convention center after the ceremony, underlining the importance of the book known as the food bible to France's national identity.

Michelin France is considered the most prestigious of the publication's 31 global editions by the fine food establishment.

But although the guide is famed for making the fortunes of chefs, it's equally famous for breaking them with its system of rating top restaurants with one to three stars.

Michelin has defended itself over persistent claims that its stars reward pomp and presentation instead of food and that it brings unbearable scrutiny to its laureates.

One of the winners - Veyrat - doesn't seem to mind.

"We need the pressure and adrenaline because we are creatives. We love creativity and we are a little mad," he told The Associated Press.

Others disagree.

Last week, Michelin's reputation was tarnished when the three-star Le Suquet restaurant was withdrawn at the request of its owner, Sebastien Bras, who complained about inhuman stress levels linked to the accolade, such as the possibility of anonymous experts eating a meal unannounced at any given moment. Bras' move prompted widespread questions in the media over the usefulness of the index.

It's not the first time Michelin's rating system has been criticized.

In 2005, after 28 years, Alain Senderens transformed his three-star restaurant, the Lucas Carton, into a humble brasserie, saying he had had enough of the "senseless race" of the classifications.

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