This is the time of year when top chefs bite their fingernails and stare at the phone wondering if and when the call will come. January 19th is the date the Michelin guide is published and stars are awarded. For a chef it is the ultimate accolade, a bench mark for top class cooking, the Oscar. For a restaurant it’s a valuable marketing tool and for the media a useful shorthand.
Yorkshire enters 2011 with six Michelin starred restaurants: The Star at Harome, the Pipe and Glass at South Dalton, the Yorke Arms, the Burlington Restaurant at the Devonshire Arms Hotel, the Box Tree in Ilkley and the Old Vicarage, Sheffield – more than any other county, though remember we are the biggest.
We are proud of them all but less so with the system. The Michelin inspectors, a secretive lot, are drawn from the industry. They know their stuff but are irrevocably drawn to that certain style of cooking that sees highly wrought, labour intensive dishes in a menu scattered with expensive ingredients as worthy of their highest award (which makes it a continuing mystery that Anthony’s in Leeds has never cracked it.)
Chefs in turn start cooking for the inspectors and ponce up their establishments accordingly. I have sympathy with the pub owner last year who sacked his chef who won a star but lost touch with his customers.
I’ve no quarrel with Yorkshire’s Michelin star holders but how about broadening the club to take in some smaller places, cheaper places, more international places. Like Le Langhe in York, the Fox and Hounds at Goldsborough, El Gato Negro at Ripponden, Artisan at Hessle, Melton’s and J. Baker’s in York, Prashad in Bradford and more, all home to food that’s real and very, very good.
Visiit our Top Ten Favourites page and submit your favourite Yorkshire restaurants.