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What Michelin Means to London’s Newest Starred Restaurants

Core’s Clare Smyth, Kitchen Table’s James Knappett, and all of yesterday’s winners on what it means to be recognised by the Red Guide

Clare Smyth of Core receives two Michelin stars for her Notting Hill restaurant from mentor Gordon Ramsay at the Michelin Guide Revelation 1 October 2018 Michelin [Official Photo]

Michelin, it seems, still matters. Not least to the chefs, for whom it can divert the course of a restaurant’s fate. Yesterday, there were big winners, and some notable losers, announced and not announced at a very big-deal “revelation” ceremony in central London. Although Michelin will, rightly, continue to have its critics, and has a way to go to meet the modern expectations of representation, there were small signs yesterday that although no one has yet changed the tyres, the hub caps on the world’s preeminent restaurant guide look a little more polished.

Here’s what Michelin means to yesterday’s winners:

Chef-patron at Core, Notting Hill, Clare Smyth:

We are delighted with the news and want to thank Michelin for recognising our hard work. I am so proud of my amazing team and all the effort they have put into this first year of Core. I am also very grateful for all the support that we have received from our guests and industry.

James Knappett, chef-patron, Kitchen Table, Bubbledogs:

To receive the news that we received two Michelin stars was absolutely mind-blowing.

We’re completely blown away. we worked incredibly hard for it — me, Sandia, and the whole team, the team now and the team past. It was always a dream. You have to want to achieve something to always move forwards so, when it got called out I was absolutely shocked. Took me a while to stand up, took me a while to even read that it was my restaurant.

The reception we got from it and the love that we’ve had from it, from guests, from others chefs has just been mind-blowing.

It’s all about — as Gordon [Ramsay] said — maintaining it now. We don’t just relax because we’ve got it — and we’re gonna try and do even better. There’s one more [star] to be had, which is some years away but we’ll do everything we think we can to try and achieve that.

The team is incredibly buzzed. They all wanted it, we all believed in it. It was completely unexpected but in the same sense, like I said, we worked for it and we wanted it. So it was lovely to achieve it and now is just about onwards and upwards again — to maintain it.

Super appreciative to Michelin for this very special award. Obviously it’s very rare.

To get the recognition of the two Michelin stars is a very very very special feeling because we’ve kept our heads down, we worked hard, we kept our heads out of everything else. Some guides you’re in, some guides you’re not. Some things you’re at the top of, some things you’re at the bottom of, some things you’re not even in them. We never let this distract us, we never worried about this — and we just kept the focus on who we wanted to be and what we wanted to do, where we wanted to go and in six years I never took myself off that path so when Monday happened, the long six years of thinking that if we were doing everything right, what am I doing wrong because I’m not in this guide, because I don’t have this award or whatever, all of that sacrifice and all of that thinking paid off when we finally won what we were really after. So it’s more than worth it.

Nieves Barragan Mohacho, centre, collected a Michelin star for her Spanish restaurant, Sabor
Michelin Revelation [Official Photo]

Nieves Barragan Mohacho, chef-patron, Sabor, Mayfair:

José [Etura, co-owner] and I are thrilled. We feel so honoured to have been given a Michelin star. We opened our dream restaurant earlier this year and cannot believe the journey we have been on. But the most important thing is the team. Everyone is over the moon. Thank you to all of you who have worked so hard to create Sabor.

Chef-founder Tomos Parry, Brat, Shoreditch:

We didn’t set out with accolades in mind, but we’re very happy to receive this recognition. It was fairly intense — being first up, it was long time standing on that stage in front of many chefs that I admire. When you open a restaurant you expect it to grow over time so I’m completely humbled...just six months after opening. More than anything, it makes me happy to know that people are enjoying the way we cook and to have the acknowledgement that we’re heading in the right direction. I’m so proud of the whole team for their hard work, in what has been a complete whirlwind and very intense few months.

CEO and co-founder of Hide, Mayfair, Tatiana Fokina:

We are very pleased and honoured to receive a Michelin star just five months after Hide opened its doors. We celebrated with the team yesterday and it was brilliant to see how much joy it gave them that all their hard work was appreciated. For us this is only the very beginning of the journey for with Ollie as chef, each and every new dish introduced onto the menu goes from strength to strength. It is also great that given the size of the restaurant, our customers can still get a table without waiting months for a table. This accolade is a great motivation and truly means a lot to everyone involved.

Ed Thaw, co-owner, Leroy, Shoreditch:

This is our third time round the block now. We didn’t expect it. I think it’s best not to expect it. There’s nothing worse, in my mind, than going to a restaurant where the chef is trying.

The food is simpler than at Ellory — more direct and from the heart. There’s no doubt that Sam is a unique talent. Lots of chefs at the minute are doing stuff that people call cutting edge but just is not. Cutting edge is having your own identity rather than just copying bits from other cultures or other chefs. We’ve all focused on doing what we want rather than chasing it and that’s something that we’ve stuck since the first time. If there’s something I’m really proud of it’s this.

This time we can own it. In many ways we’re the odd one out in this club and that suits us just fine. I think anyone who wants to say that Michelin just rewards a certain type of restaurant has to reckon with what we’ve been doing these past three years. Brat’s star was another step in that direction. As far as guests expectations go, we’ve been dealing with those for three years. So anyone is free to say that they don’t think this is a Michelin star restaurant but Michelin, and we, clearly beg to differ.

Jeremy Chan, chef and co-owner, Ikoyi, St James’s:

Huge respect to Michelin for recognising what we do, that it’s almost a genre of cooking they haven’t classified before we are honoured that they saw our cooking for what it truly is — consistent, high quality produce, and original flavour combinations. Michelin or not we will still do what we do, aim to cook the best version of whatever aesthetic, recipe, image, memory of a dish to our guests in its optimised form. This recognition is a testament to our young team of open minded cooks and servers, to the power of African umami, spice, and complexity that the world should get to know better.

Simon Rogan, chef-patron, Roganic, Marylebone:

This is a special day and I’m so proud of the whole team. It’s been brilliant being back in London with Roganic these past nine months, and to be awarded a star is such a short period of time, we couldn’t have asked for more.

To view the full list of Michelin-starred restaurants for 2019 in London, view the updated map here.