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By Jay Jayaram
Brighton’s restaurant scene has exploded over the past 10 years, with some of the country’s most renowned chefs - including the likes of Steven Edwards, Michael Bremmer and Matt Gillan - opening restaurants in the city centre. Resident diners in Brighton and Hove have long considered themselves to be culinary experts, demanding beautifully presented and freshly made dishes.
This has resulted in a massive influx of international cuisine into the city, whilst still retaining the modern British classics which we all know and love. With so much competition in Brighton, the question remains, when will ‘London by the Sea’ be awarded its first Michelin Star? In this blog, we take a look at what Brighton’s restaurant owners should consider if they wish to achieve what is the industry’s most coveted accolade!
While locals continue to speculate and debate Brighton’s eligibility to earn its first Michelin Star, a little known fact is that our seaside haven actually used to have a Michelin Starred restaurant in the late 70s in Kemptown called Le Francais. However, that establishment closed its doors in the early 80s.
Founded over 100 years ago, Michelin Stars remain the culinary world’s greatest status symbol to date! These accolades are annually awarded by French tyre company Michelin in the Red Guide, a reference book for restaurants and hotels.
For a city to be considered a culinary destination, many will look at how many Michelin starred restaurants it has. Unsurprisingly, major cities such as London, Paris and Tokyo contain large numbers of starred restaurants. However, there are other cities that may come as a surprise, such as Birmingham with five restaurants which have been awarded one star.
Although Michelin is often branded as an exclusive fine-dining guide, this isn’t always the case. While many of the included restaurants do charge large sums of money for fancy meals, there are no rules for cuisine types or prices where the Red Guide is concerned. For example, a Singapore food truck was handed a Michelin Star in 2016.
Despite the notoriously mysterious nature of the Michelin Guide’s selection criteria, with the ever-constant possibility of anonymous inspectors turning up to review a restaurant without identifying themselves, here’s a rough guide of what it takes to earn your three Michelin Stars:
One Michelin Star
It’s worth noting that Michelin Stars are awarded solely based on food quality. Inspectors take no interest in the restaurant’s appearance, atmosphere or service.
In order to earn a Michelin Star, you must produce consistently high quality dishes. Chefs should be able to produce all dishes to the highest standard and show a mastery of their trade. Your menu should also have personality that distinguishes your restaurant from other establishments. The Michelin guide aims to highlight standout restaurants, so you’re unlikely to feature if your French cuisine is no different to the French cuisine on offer up the street.
According to former Michelin inspector turned leaker Pascal Rémy, you first need to get on to Michelin’s ‘to review’ radar in order to earn a star. This list is compiled from past reviews on local blogs and publications.
Two Michelin Stars
Earning your second Michelin star is undoubtedly a more challenging process because the guide states that two Michelin Starred restaurants are worth deviating from your planned route to visit. However, the two Michelin Star requirements are much the same as earning just one star. Inspectors will still focus on the taste of a dish, but they are also likely to consider the quality of the ingredients used.
Many two star chefs source unique and rare ingredients to add to their dishes in order to provide something that diners can’t get anywhere else as a way of maintaining their rating.
When it comes to consistency, your kitchen brigade would do well to step up their game. Although the odd kitchen mishap is unlikely to cause any major issues in a one star establishment, it might do in a two star restaurant.
Three Michelin Stars
Michelin only award three stars to restaurants that are worth going out of your way to eat at. Unsurprisingly, very few earn such a prestigious rating. While earning one and two stars largely comes down to whether you’re able to please a particular inspector on the day, entering the elite club of three Michelin Star restaurants requires the approval of a number of inspectors. It should go without saying that food quality, ingredients and chef technique must be exquisite.
According to Pascal, reputation also plays a part in determining the outcome of the three-star selection process. Restaurants and chefs which have been involved in scandals or have questionable backgrounds are unlikely to be awarded the guide’s highest rating.
Creativity plays a big part in the selection process. Because inspectors are looking for unique culinary experiences, creative chefs who drive innovation on the plate and start new food trends are usually top of the list of eligible candidates for that third Michelin star!
With such a diverse and exciting local food scene, it comes as shock (and even a source of controversy) to some how Brighton has yet to receive a Michelin Star since the 70s. But with the reputation of Brighton’s culinary offering fast gaining ground throughout the UK, we may not have long to wait until we see Brighton’s first Michelin Starred venue make nationwide headlines.
In the meantime however, it’s interesting to see what the local experts think about what steps Brighton’s restaurants should take in order to earn their first Michelin Stars. Ben McKeller, Head Chef and Co-Owner of the Gingerman Group of restaurants, says, “A chef should cook for their customers first, second and third and worry about everything else afterwards.”
Dan Kenny, Co-Founder and Head Chef of The Set, at the Artists Residence in Hove, agrees, saying, “Staying true to your goals and ambitions, and constantly trying to improve yourself as a chef, are what’s most important. I think accolades should be appreciated if they come along, but not chased,” he says.
What will you do to earn your first Michelin Star?
Jay Jayaram is a Recruitment Consultant for Search Consultancy’s Hospitality & Catering Division in Brighton. Having worked directly within the Hospitality sector for 10 years, managing a 5-starred hotel restaurant and concessions in an international airport, she has an in-depth understanding and knowledge of the local restaurant scene. This has enabled her to provide a truly exceptional recruitment service to both clients and candidates alike, offering insight on developments in the market as well as the skills needed to thrive in the industry.
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