The Michelin guide celebrates the ‘resilient’ French food scene

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Cognac (France) (AFP) – The Michelin guide unveiled its 2022 edition on Tuesday, celebrating an increasingly green and diverse French food scene and its resilience after two difficult years of the pandemic.

The famous red book, eagerly awaited by chefs and foodies every year, unveiled this year’s winners in Cognac, south-west France, for the first time in its 122 years, the ceremony took place outside of Paris.

Two restaurants were awarded the highest distinction of three stars.

Arnaud Donckele, 44, known for his unusual sauces, shot straight to the top with his new Plenitude restaurant in the Samaritaine department store in Paris.

Married couple Dimitri and Marielle Droisneau also took first place for their Mediterranean restaurant La Villa Madie in Cassis near Marseille, which the jury praised for its “poetic home-style cooking”.

“With 49 restaurants featured this year, including two three-star restaurants, we see that it’s more than just resilience – that the French gastronomic scene is showing incredible vitality and creative power,” Gwendal, director of the guide, told Poullennec AFP.

In recent years, much emphasis has been placed on a more minimalist cuisine from sustainable sources, which the guide has been rewarding with “green stars” since 2020.

There are now 87 green star restaurants in France, six new additions to the new guide.

Back to business

Last year’s ceremony, amid a month-long pandemic-induced shutdown, was a low-key affair with just one chef – Alexandre Mazzia – promoted to three stars.

A total of 49 restaurants were awarded one to three stars at the awards ceremony in Cognac PHILIPPE LOPEZ AFP

But this year marked a rejuvenation, with a maskless crowd filling the theater in Cognac, a small town with a huge international reputation for its eponymous spirit.

The Michelin guide and the pressure it puts on chefs have long been the subject of controversy.

In 2020, foodies were shocked when the Auberge du Pont de Collonges – the world’s oldest three-star restaurant – was downgraded following the death of legendary chef Paul Bocuse.

A year earlier, Marc Veyrat was the first to sue the travel guide after losing the third star of his alpine restaurant La Maison des Bois just one year after it was awarded.

He lost the case and said he never wanted to see a Michelin inspector in his restaurants again.

Poullennec said downgrades are vital if the guide is to “remain relevant to customers”.

Judging by the tears and emotions on the stage in Cognac, the guide continues to be a great source of motivation for chefs and their teams.

The Michelin guide is being presented outside of Paris for the first time since its inception in 1900
The Michelin guide is being presented outside of Paris for the first time since its inception in 1900 JOEL SAGET AFP/Files

France is currently in a new golden age of cuisine, having long been accused of laziness and laziness.

The last 15 years have seen an influx of young chefs who are more open to global influences and new approaches, said Paris-based food writer Lindsey Tramuta.

“Michelin is still very important for chefs and owners. If it motivates your kitchen staff and team and generates more guests and curiosity, then it has value,” she said.

Developed in 1900 by tire manufacturers Andre and Edouard Michelin as a guide for motorists, it now has editions throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America.

In March it announced that it was ceasing operations in Russia because of the war, just months after publishing its first guide in Moscow.

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