Michelin Hands Out 2021 Restaurant Stars Despite Covid-19 Closures

Michelin Hands Out 2021 Restaurant Stars Despite Covid-19 Closures.

The Michelin Guide consecrated France’s 30th three-star restaurant on Monday, Jan. 18, as it presented its awards for 2021 against the backdrop of the Covid-19 crisis, which has seen chefs forced to close their establishments.

The famous red guide had promised that no three-star chefs would be demoted as the health crisis rages, with food fans unlikely to book tables anytime soon. Many chefs fear French authorities will keep restaurants closed for several more weeks if not months, following a lockdown last spring and another imposed since October.

As they haemorrhage money, some have pivoted to take-away or deliveries, adapting menus and often cutting prices, while pressing the government to let them reopen as soon as possible.

“This year chefs have truly earned it,” the industry bible’s boss Gwendal Poullennec said after a ceremony broadcast via Facebook from the Jules Vernes restaurant (one star) on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

“It’s an occasion to shine a spotlight on all these talents, to encourage them, and to keep restaurant patrons motivated” while waiting for the crisis to pass, he said. He added that only a handful of stars would be taken away, for restaurants that had closed or changed their dining concept.

Michelin drew fire for bestowing its verdicts — which can make or break a chef after years of efforts — after a brutal year for the industry. The rival Best 50 list, based in Britain, cancelled its 2020 ranking last year, while France’s La Liste said this month that instead of rankings it would honour innovative chefs who have persevered in the face of the pandemic.

Social distancing rules forced Michelin to call off the lavish gala ceremony that was to be held in Cognac, southwest France which is the first time it was to be held outside Paris.


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Tony Winterburn

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