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And the Winner Is…

Stephanie Curtis - April 2014

Paris—At precisely 11:11 a.m. on the last Monday in February, the Michelin guide’s annual listing of winners and losers in the French restaurant game hit news wires. At the same moment, Michael Ellis, international director of the famous French tire company’s 114 year old Guide Rouge, was officiating in an auditorium packed with photographers, journalists, and an army of white-clad chefs from France and beyond. Film clips, speeches, and special guest photo-ops led, like a drum­roll, up to the announcement of this year’s big winner, Arnaud Lallement (pictured), of L’Assiette Champenoise restaurant near Reims in the Champagne region. The 39 year old Lallement, also named Chef of the Year 2014 by Gault & Millau, was this year’s only promotion to the ultimate Michelin three-star rating.

Also honored during the ceremony were six restaurants awarded two Michelin stars, including Paris’ Akrame, headed by 33 year old chef Akrame Benal­lal. Fifty-seven establishments won their first star, four of them helmed by women, including Stephanie Le Quellec, chef of La Scène at the Prince de Galles hotel, and Virginie Basselot at the hotel Saint James, both in Paris.

Among this year’s fallen stars in Paris were Apicius, demoted from two to one star, and Senderens (renamed Lucas Carton), deprived of both stars. Le Meurice hotel’s restaurant retained its three-star rating following the resignation of Yannick Alléno, thanks to the arrival of chef Alain Ducasse in the kitchens of this Parisian palace.

Seven of this year’s new one-star kitchens are headed by chefs under 30 years old, and 115 of the referenced restaurants offer menus of €30 ($42) or less, highlighting a decidedly less stuffy attitude for the granddaddy of restaurant guides.