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France Shines With Over 600 Restaurants Awarded Michelin Stars

posted 24 Feb 2014, 09:58 by Mpelembe   [ updated 24 Feb 2014, 09:58 ]

The Michelin guide awards stars to 610 French restaurants for 2014, including 64 newly starred entrants in the prestigious guide.

PARIS, FRANCE (FEBRUARY 24, 2014) (REUTERS) - The prestigious Michelin Guide awarded stars to 610 French restaurants on Monday (February 24), with 64 new additions bagging one, two or three stars.

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The yearly guide is produced by anonymous inspectors who travel across the country and behave like ordinary customers by always paying for their meals.

Reims-based restaurant L'Assiette Champenoise was the only new establishment to win three stars, bringing the total number of restaurants in France to boast this prestigious accolade to 27.

The restaurant's head chef and owner Arnaud Lallement, who took over the kitchens from his father Jean-Pierre Lallement, was delighted with the news.

"It's just happiness, it's a long path where we worked as a team, where I was supported by the Champagne region, I was supported by guests who have come to visit us for lunch and for dinner for many years and today this third star I dedicate it to them all," he said after the announcement of the 2014 awards.

Chefs such as Lallement have to meet several criteria to win a star, according to the international director of the Michelin guides Michael Ellis.

"We always look for the same thing, we look for the ingredients, a chef has to use the best ingredients. We look for his mastery of cooking technique, things have to be perfectly cooked, we look for his expression of his personality, does he have a personality, does he have something to say in what he's cooking? We look for consistency over time and value for money. Those have been the tried and true recipes for Michelin over the last 100 years," he told Reuters Television.

Six new restaurants were awarded two Michelin stars, while 57 made their way on to the list with one star.

Among these is the Saint James in Paris, located in the heart of the French capital just off the Champs Elysees.

The Saint James, once a residence for France's most talented students, is today the only chateau-turned-hotel of the capital with its own private gardens.

While 33-year-old head chef Virginie Basselot was abroad, sous-chef Sebastien Dorier welcomed the news with mixed emotions of both joy and relief.

"We expected it, we hoped a lot. And now I can feel it, I am trembling. It's a joy, a satisfaction. We worked in this direction, we worked hard for it and it is a great satisfaction."

he said.

Patisserie chef Mathias Alet said the restaurant had set its sights on winning a star.

"I am very happy, very happy, because the goal is to obtain a star. This shows we do a good job," he said.

Clients rejoiced when they heard the news, including doctor and specialist in nutrition Jean-Claude Pawlak, who has been a regular at the Saint James for the past 20 years.

"This is so much deserved that it is almost not a surprise anymore. It's a little weird to say this but we expected it so much. It is so justified, that even two stars would not have been too much," he said.

Across the country, the younger generation stood out this year, with seven chefs out of the 57 awarded one star being under 30.

The Michelin guide also noted 115 starred restaurants offer a set menu for 30 euros or less, often at lunchtime.

A tasting menu at the Saint James, meanwhile, would set you back 105 euros while the set menus at Lallement's three star restaurant range from 68 euros to 198 euros.