Sat, Jan 26, 2019 - Page 13 News List

Michelin boosts female chefs

Eleven female-led restaurants have been added to this year’s guide to the best food in France — much higher than the two chosen last year


French chef Stephanie Le Quellec, center, who received her second star, is helped in a jacket on Monday during this year’s Michelin Guide presentation in Paris.

Photo: EPA-EFE

An unprecedented number of restaurants run by female chefs won plaudits in the new French edition of the Michelin food guide released Monday, as the guardians of haute cuisine sought to address a glaring gender imbalance.

Eleven female-led restaurants have been added to this year’s guide to the best food in France, out of a record 75 new additions bestowed with one, two or three Michelin stars.

Among them was 24-year-old wunderkind Julia Sedefdjian, who won a star for her new restaurant Baieta, while Stephanie Le Quellec claimed her second for Parisian restaurant La Scene.

Last year’s guide had been marked by a near absence of women: only two female chefs featured, both in partnership with male colleagues. A year earlier, only one woman was among the 70 new additions to the “starred” list.

The guide’s new international director Gwendal Poullennec had promised to breathe new life into its pages this year, celebrating young talent as well as female chefs.

“It’s a reflection of the great dynamism of French gastronomy, in all regions, with establishments set up by talented young people who are often entrepreneurs who have taken risks,” Poullennec said.

Poullennec stressed last week that the Michelin reviewers were not working under any “quotas” or “lowering of the criteria,” but had simply sought to select a more diverse range of restaurants this year, both in terms of the profile of the chefs and the style of the cooking.

A large number of international chefs are also honored — many of them Japanese — while Argentine Mauro Colagreco became the only foreigner to currently hold three stars in France.

“So many emotions. Thank you! I’m so honored,” said the 42-year-old, whose Mirazur restaurant on the glitzy French Riviera ranked fourth last year on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Chef Laurent Petit meanwhile praised the feared Michelin reviewers for having “the sense” to award him a third star for Le Clos des Sens restaurant in Annecy.

“I’m delighted to have won a third star with endive roots and a cabbage tart. Simple, simple, simple,” he said.

In one of the biggest shocks, renowned Alpine chef Marc Veyrat lost his third star, along with the Auberge de L’Ill, a restaurant in Alsace that had held three stars for 51 years.

“It’s hard for the team, it’s hard for everyone — the customers, the family,” its chef Marc Haeberlin told France 3 Alsace television.

“I don’t know how to explain this loss,” said Haeberlin, whose family has run an inn in Alsace for 150 years.

Veyrat, known as much for his trademark wide-brimmed black hat as his love of mountain herbs, said he was “terribly disappointed” that his restaurant, Maison des Bois, had been downgraded.

“I can’t understand it at all,” said Veyrat, blasting the decision as “unfair.”

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