Following Michelin’s announcement that its annual guide would switch to a virtual ‘digital only’ format and be delayed until January 25th 2021 for their Great Britain & Ireland edition, to be held at a closed event at The Dorchester, ‘highlighting the resilience, quality and potential of the industry across the UK and Ireland’, The Greatest British Hospitality Company hosted a forum of industry professionals and influencers, to explore its relevance in the current economic climate, and identify how the sector can adapt the the challenging operating conditions they currently face.

Our aim is to identify how our hospitality sector can not only survive through this crisis – but hopefully thrive.

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Is the Michelin Virtual-Guide 2021 Still Relevant in a Pandemic?

“At a time when restaurants and pubs are closed, why then would we be launching a guide and awarding Stars? The answer is simple: we want to promote the industry as much as we possibly can. We want to celebrate the many amazing restaurants in Great Britain & Ireland and all the hugely talented chefs and restaurateurs. We want to shine a light on our industry, to keep people talking about it in the media and remind everyone of what we have, and to bring news of our great restaurants to a global audience.” Commented Michelin.

In France the 2021 Michelin Guide was announced on January 18th, again virtually, from the prestigious Jules Verne Restaurant located within the Eiffel Tower. The guide’s inspectors assessed those to be included in between France’s lock-downs, drawing on inspectors from all over the World to apply an ‘all seats to the tables’ approach, inspecting all restaurants in 200 days only, instead of the usual 365! (See Summary of the French 2021 Guide results below)

Is this a flavour of how they will approach the GB & Ireland Guide later this month?

We were re-assured by Michelin early on that the GB & I Guide inspections commenced back in August 2019, providing much of the assessments before the first lock-down in March 2021. But many of those restaurants have changed their offering, adapted set up and many even closed permanently due to pandemic pressures. Some have even re-focused and improved, upping their game, until this closure hit.

Is the guide still relevant in this fast-changing landscape?

The industry consensus definitely suggests so. In fact, the guide may be more important now than it ever has.

Much like haute couture from the fashion houses of Paris and Milan will be translated onto global catwalks and ultimately filter down to High Street clothing retailers, the hospitality industry will look to Michelin for inspiration on how the top rated restaurants are innovating and adapting their offering in the face of a pandemic.

Beyond the need to adapt and innovate, restaurants at all levels still need to see how new cooking techniques, flavour combinations and styles of presentation are influencing cookery.

“For the chef, Michelin is god,” says Andreas Antona. “We can’t do without them because there has to be some kind of benchmark of quality, and trusted information for the customer on where to go and what to eat.

“Could they be out of date if they were published now, instead of in January? Very much so, because we really have no idea what the restaurant landscape will look like by then. But the guide is a crucial tool for hospitality and we need to work together to make sure it’s a platform that supports the industry as a whole.”

John Williams agrees: “It’s important that chefs, restaurateurs and guides like Michelin can come together, listen to feedback and have an open and honest discussion on how we can adapt and develop a better understanding between venues and customers.”

From a diner’s perspective, the Michelin guide is equally important. “Moving the guide back to January 2021 is a reasonable response,” says Andy Hayler.

“We know there have been some big changes in the sector; that many restaurants are working with smaller teams and smaller menus. Ultimately, Michelin can only inspect on what they see at that time, and reflect it back within the guide – because that’s the experience the customer will be having.”

Shaun Rankin of Grantley Hall, holder of previous Stars recently commented on the prospect of the Michelin Guide announcement in January “Our focus is the customer. Guides and accolades are always welcomed, but to us the paying customer is who we strive for.”


Michelin Guide 2021

How have public attitudes to hospitality shifted since lockdown?

Public sympathy for the hospitality sector has risen since the first lockdown, and there is a strong nationwide understanding and appreciation for the challenges it’s had to face.

Concerns around safety, however remain paramount. Many of the typical diners at Michelin starred restaurants tend to be in the older age brackets and are therefore more vulnerable, so providing reassurance that all possible safety measures are in place is critical. Andy Hayler, a prolific Michelin Diner, commented on his first post-lockdown experiences;

“I checked the website of every restaurant I was visiting to make sure they’ve got a clear COVID policy,” says Andy. “Whether they were providing social distancing, increased ventilation or wearing masks, the specifics of that policy doesn’t matter too much – as a diner, I just needed to know that they’re taking it seriously.”

As the vaccine is rolled out, no-one knows what the mindset of those who have received it will be when the hospitality sector re-opens.

Andreas added: “As a business, we actually come out of the first COVID lockdown as a better and more focussed operation. Because we were working with a smaller team, we had to concentrate our efforts and focus on doing two or three main courses really, really well – rather than trying to juggle half a dozen.

“Good food is about precision engineering, and we’ve now got the time and opportunity to focus entirely on making sure it’s perfect, because it’s up to us as Michelin chefs to do that. There are also simple incentives that can really help you as a business – we’ve taken inspiration from the Roux Brothers and created a very successful three-course menu with half a bottle of wine, and that’s worked really well for us, and now we have added our Antona At Home‘ solution during this lockdown whcih is keeping us focused”

However, if the public looks to any industry to exemplify the ‘new normal’, hospitality is a clear indicator. The service sector, when fully open, is already governed by strict hygiene standards, and has historically been required many times to develop flexibility in the face of new challenges.

Perhaps Michelin’s ‘Revelation’ will become a new Star to aim for once the industry re-opens, in whatever form they can when restrictions begin to be lifted once more.

They will need to adapt as much as those who serve it, to survive. 

Michelin Guide France 2021 Summary:

Last year’s 29 “three-stars” remain.
57 new restaurants make it to Michelin 2021.
54 have been awarded their first star (5 more than in 2020).

In Paris and Ile-de-France, the Guide Michelin 2021 decided to award 7 restaurants with one star:

Mory Sacko, Mosuke, Paris
Sébastien Sanjou, Paris
Jacky Tauvry, Paris
Jason Gouzy, Pantagruel, Paris
Enrique Casarrubias, Oxte, Paris
Assaf Granit, Shabour, Paris
Baptiste Renouard, Ochre – Rueil-Malmaison

Two Star:

Hélène Darroze,Marsan, Paris
Cédric Deckert, La Merise, Laubach (Alsace)

Three Star: Alexandre Mazzia for his AM restaurant in Marseille.

The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2021, is this a flavour of next weeks awards?
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