Archive for November, 2012

LEUKA – Who’s Cooking Dinner? Four Seasons 2013

Posted on: November 29th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Twenty Michelin-starred chefs cook dinner to help cure leukaemia

Who's Cooking Dinner

On Monday 4th March 2013, twenty chefs from London’s finest restaurants will be packing their chef whites and heading to the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane to cook dinner for Leuka’s annual Who’s Cooking Dinner? fundraising event.

Who’s Cooking Dinner? has been one of the most exclusive events in the London restaurant world for over a decade. Every year, 20 top chefs prepare a meal for 200 diners, who can also bid for the culinary masters to cook dinner in their home at a later date, all in aid of Leuka.

Chris Corbin, (co-owner of The Wolseley, The Delaunay, Brasserie Zedel and Colbert) Chairman of Who’s Cooking Dinner? says, ‘We’re so lucky to have such an amazing family of chefs and restaurants supporting this event. Each year they rise to the occasion – the dishes paraded into the ballroom are highly innovative and of astonishing quality’

The top chefs for 2013:

Bruno Loubet Bistrot Bruno Loubet
Bruce Poole Chez Bruce
Sally Clarke Clarke’s
Richard Corrigan Corrigan’s Mayfair
Ashley Palmer Watts Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Tong Chee Hwee Hakkasan
Michele Lombardi Harry’s Bar
Claude Bosi Hibiscus
Mark Hix Hix
Pierre Koffmann Koffmann’s at The Berkeley
Chris & Jeff Galvin La Chapelle
Marcus Wareing Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley
Angela Hartnett Murano
Jason Atheron Pollen Street Social
Tim Hughes Scott’s
Brett Graham The Ledbury
Peter Gordon The Providores
Phil Howard The Square
Lawrence Keogh The Wolseley
Rainer Becker together with Bjoern Weissgerber Zuma


Each chef creates a delectable four-course menu with accompanying wines. Now comes the twist.  Only after a draw during the pre-dinner reception do guests discover which chef is cooking for them — hence, Who’s Cooking Dinner? The evening ends with an exceptional auction of chefs, with each ‘auctioned’ chef agreeing to cook dinner for ten in the home of the highest bidder.

To date, this cooking extravaganza has raised over £4 million for Leuka, and continues to make a real difference to the lives of leukaemia patients both here in the UK and abroad.




Tickets for the event

There are twenty tables of ten, each costing £6,000. Call Camilla on 020 7487 3401 to enquire.

The story behind Who’s Cooking Dinner?

In 1994, the lives of two families with strong ties to the restaurant industry changed forever. In Australia, the sister of chef Peter Gordon was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. On the opposite side of the world in a room at Hammersmith Hospital, restaurateur Chris Corbin was undergoing a bone marrow transplant.

New Zealand-born chef Peter Gordon is famed for his ‘fusion’ style of cookery, which he first introduced at
The Sugar Club and continues to explore at his London restaurants, The Providores and Kopapa. In 1994, he donated bone marrow to his youngest sister Tracey. After her full recovery, Peter wanted to do something to help other families battling with leukaemia. He came up with Who’s Cooking Dinner?.

Restaurateur Chris Corbin is one half of the duo that turned The Ivy, Le Caprice, J Sheekey and The Wolseley into London’s hottest eateries. In 1990, at the age of 38, he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia. It was a colossal thunderbolt. For the next four years, he and his family were left in limbo while they waited for a suitable donor of bone marrow. Chris, now a Trustee of the charity Leuka, chairs Who’s Cooking Dinner?


Leuka supports life-saving research into the causes and treatment of leukaemia and other blood cancers.

Our world-class scientists and clinicians working at Imperial College London and the Hammersmith Hospital are accelerating the pace of development  bringing new treatments and hopefully a cure to patients as quickly as possible. Our flagship building, the Catherine Lewis Centre, built by the charity, houses fourteen isolation rooms for patients undergoing stem cell transplantation, a day-care clinic, consulting rooms and a state-of-the-art stem cell handling laboratory. We also fund promising young researchers, who we hope will become the scientific leaders of tomorrow. Nurturing next generation talent is crucial to finding new breakthroughs and cures for leukaemia and our research is being applied to other cancers with promising results.

Leuka’s  goal is simple: a better future for patients both here in the UK and abroad.

Restaurant Review: Taste of Alimentum (The Landmark)

Posted on: November 29th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

It’s a brave chef who leaves his Michelin starred restaurant in the provinces to undertake a guest slot in the great metropolis. With an unfamiliar kitchen, new brigade and front of house team, let alone a different clientele, the exercise is fraught with potential difficulties. Reputations painstakingly developed over years might be ruined in the same number of days.

Mark Poynton of Alimentum in Cambridge, is one such chef who has seized the opportunity – along with the risks – to showcase his cuisine to a wider audience at the Landmark Hotel; and from the outstanding meal Fine Dining Guide sampled early into his three week stay, he is doing it with great aplomb. That he has managed to offer two tasting menus as well as the carte in a new, albeit temporary, environment, is a testament to his organizational and leadership abilities as well as his expertise as a chef. Indeed, he has only brought with him one of his kitchen team and his restaurant manager.

The grand indoor setting of the Winter Garden, complete with palm trees and glass roof high above the atrium, could hardly be more different from the contemporary designer surroundings of his 60 cover restaurant in Cambridge. Opened in 2007, Mark joined Alimentum as chef patron in 2008, the year it was awarded three AA rosettes. It has subsequently been listed amongst The Good Food Guide’s 60 best UK restaurants and gained a highly coveted Michelin star in the 2013 guide.

Such accolades reward the food’s inventive artistry, masterly precision, and meticulous attention to detail. How refreshing to hear Mark describe his cooking as “complex, carefully crafted and very technical.” His labour intensive efforts, aided by the latest culinary technology, emphasize purity of taste with balance of flavours, textures and temperatures. The presentation of his dishes is exquisite.

Amongst his influences is Daniel Clifford of the two Michelin starred Midsummer House, where Mark was head chef before coming to Alimentum. Like Mark, Daniel also guested in London – at the Cube at the Royal Albert Hall.

A special seasonal tasting menu began with excellent canapés of mini gougeres generously filled with a tangy soft cheese.

An amuse-bouche of parsnip and apple veloute, laced with a mere hint of truffle oil, was light and well flavoured. Caramelised parsnip popcorn was a nice innovative touch.


Scallop ceviche was beautifully delicate and fresh tasting. The apple marinade gave a sweetness countered by a spicy horseradish granite which enlivened the whole dish. By avoiding an excess of citrus that can often ruin a ceviche, this dish proved to be a brilliant balance of tastes, textures and temperatures. The crisp, clean mineral qualities of the white wine added to the enjoyment of this course.  (Wine: Albarino, Rias Baixas ,Galicia, Spain, 2010)


A quennel of venison tartar was meltingly soft and well-seasoned. The accompanying “Textures of leek” included the charred white stem and a burnt leek puree which gave a slight bitterness which married well with the gentle, gamey flavour of the meat.  The often discarded green leaves of the leek were used in a decorative flourish. Visually stunning, this dish was another harmonious essay in taste and texture. The full bodied red wine, with not overpowering spicy and black fruit notes, went well with this course. (Wine : Shiraz, Stonemason, Ballast Stone Estate Currency Creek, Australia, 2010)

Landmark Venison Tartar

The next course proved to be a veritable masterclass of fish cookery. A tranche of eel benefited from its light smoke which showed its rich oily flavour and firm texture to full advantage. Perched on a bed of lightly cooked cabbage it was surrounded by a light but deeply flavoured broth. Trompette mushrooms gave a delicate, chewy texture whilst the whole dish was lifted by the heady aroma of white truffle shavings. The white wine, with is lively acidic note was nicely judged pairing. (Wine: Reisling, Bischofliche Weinguter Triea Mosel, Germany, 2011)

Landmark Smoked Eel

The meat course was another tour de force of precise, innovative cooking. A tournedos of sirloin was tender, moist and bursting with flavour. The star of dish, however, was a croquette of oxtail oozing with unctuous richness – a real taste explosion in the mouth. Hazelnut praline added a sweet textural element that worked surprisingly well with the beef. With its pureed vegetable garnishes and a red wine sauce, this was a highly satisfying composition. This course needed a full bodied red which the spicy Chateauneuf du Pape fulfilled. (Wine : Chateauneuf du Pape, Vieux Chemin, Revoltier Southern Rhône, France, 2010)

Lanmark Sirloin of Beef

For those who cannot decide between cheese and dessert, “Perl las ice cream with Waldorf textures” could prove ideal. The strong but delicate Welsh blue cheese formed the basis of a silky smooth ice cream as well as being crumbled as part of the Waldorf textures. This playful interpretation of the classic salad also included celery jellies, apple cubes, walnuts and semi dried grapes. (Wine : Taylors 10 year tawny port)

Landmark Perl Las

Three accomplished desserts all strong on technique, flavour, texture and modern presentation, followed in quick and mouth-watering succession. The sommelier excelled in the difficult task of matching wines with such a range, all of which contained an iced element.

A pre dessert comprised baked white chocolate with refreshing ginger beer granite.

An intriguing “Yogurt baked, coffee and Baileys” featured luscious smooth ice creams spiked with shards of sugar tuiles (Wine: Coteaux du Layon, ‘vieilles vignes’ Loire Valley, France, 2009)

An intense passion fruit sorbet and puree worked well with crisp honeycomb and amoretti.  (Wine : Jurancon, Domaine, Cauhape, ‘Octobre’ Jurancon, France, 2010)


Finally, a deliciously moist and light pistachio cake was paired with well flavoured apricot sorbet and enhanced by Amaretto foam.

Landmark Pistachio

Overall, this meal exhibited cooking of a high order, with strengths in every department. It reflected Mark’s passion as a driven chef whose creative imagination is matched by the finely tuned skills needed to make his ideas work. It is London’s loss that his time at The Landmark is so short, which in itself justifies a drive up the M11 to eat at his own restaurant. Fine Dining Guide hopes to visit Cambridge soon and will follow Marks’ career with interest.

Restaurant Review: The Ritz, London (Nov 2012)

Posted on: November 27th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

The Ritz Banner

The palatial scale and rich decor of The Ritz Restaurant never fail to evoke a feeling of wonder and delight. Elegant Louis XVI furniture, sumptuous drapes and grand sculptures complement the majestic rococo design perfectly. The whole room, with its sea of gold, white and red, is a work of art in itself. In daytime, the massive floor–to-ceiling French windows flood the room with natural light. At night, the magnificent chandelier and wall lighting emit a wonderful, serene glow which illuminates the room in all its glory.

The fine cooking of John Williams and his team in the kitchen, together with the seamless service of the front of house team, do full justice to the beauty of these surroundings. Everything is carefully synchronised to provide guests with a truly memorable experience.

A dinner in early November began with well made canapes: steak tartare served on crisp bread had a piquant, spicy kick; smoked salmon yogurt on tiny meringues simply melted in the mouth; and prawn crackers with Marie Rose sauce were a playful, flavoursome interpretation of the classic starter.

Ritz Nov 2012 Canapes

A ballotine of goose liver had been expertly marinated, poached, rolled and chilled to produce a velvety texture and mild, creamy liver flavour. Its pistachio crust gave textural contrast, whilst the whole dish was lifted by two textures of apple – a smooth puree and scooped balls enrobed in a spiced port sauce. The sweet, aromatic and gently sparkling Riesling went well with this rich first course.  (Wine: Riesling Scharzhof, Egon Muller. 2011, Mosel, Germany)

Ritz Nov 2012 Foie

For our next course of native lobster we were treated to the rare delight of gueridon service.  This wonderful piece of restaurant theatre, so rarely seen elsewhere but one in which The Ritz excels, captures the attention of even the most garrulous diner. Restaurant Manager Luigi removed the meat from the tail and claws with effortless skill that comes from years of professional training and experience.

The crustacean itself had been steamed en cocotte on a bed of vegetables, infused with ginger, lime and star anise, a process which preserved its natural succulence whilst adding a gentle fragrance. Carrot fondant and puree, together with braised fennel gave contrasting sweetness and texture. A rich, intense bisque like sauce, poured at the table, bought the elements together. The dry, mineral qualities of the chosen Chardonnay was another pleasing match.  (Wine: Chardonnay Hamilton Russell Vineyard, 2011, Walker Bay, South Africa)

Ritz Nov 2012 Lobster

A “surf and turf” course featured butter poached turbot, precisely timed to retain its moist, firm texture and delicate, sweet flavour. Perched on top was a breaded, soft boiled deep fried hen’s egg, the yolk of which provided a rich natural sauce for the fish. Juxaposed to this but working well with the fish was unctuously sticky oxtail, slow braised in red wine, deboned and shredded. An intensely flavoured cep puree and sauted girolles added a deep earthiness. The rich, elegant smoothness of the powerful Sauvignon did full justice this composite dish.  (Wine: Sancerre Blanc, “Les Caillottes”, Pascal Joliver , 2011, Loire Valley, France)

Ritz Nov 2012 Turbot

 Venison Wellington, again served in gueridon style, proved a triumph of taste and texture.

Ritz Nov 2012 Venison Prep

The crisp, buttery latticed topped pastry and ham and bread crust encased well seasoned, medium rare game. Parsnip puree had a gentle smoky quality which complemented the venison well, whilst the rich, red wine jus lifted by black truffle brought the elements together. As if the dish could not get any better, a shaving of white truffle added a heady fragrance to this tour de force of an autumnal dish. The chosen red wine had a fortified, port-like aroma and rich warm body of berry fruit which stood up to the meat well.  (Wine: Aleano Douro Reserva, Symington family, 2008, Douro, Portugal)

Ritz Nov 2012 Venison Wellington

Visually stunning and highly creative desserts have always been one of the highlights of dinner at The Ritz and those served at this meal were no exception.

A well flavoured vanilla yogurt was playfully presented as a stick of striped rock draped with sugared curls. An intense raspberry sorbet with fresh raspberries enlivened with lime enhanced this refreshing dessert. (Wine: Muscat Beaume de Venise, Domaine de Coyaux, 2005, Rhone Valley, France)

Ritz Nov 2012 Raspberry

No version of deconstructed lemon meringue pie could look as beautiful or taste as good as The Ritz version. Here the soft meringue was placed on top of the crisp pastry, with gently astringent lemon cream piped on top, both being encased in a delicate while chocolate comb. The accompanying verbena and buttermilk sorbet added further zing to the dessert. (Wine: Moscata D’Asti, Sarocco, 2010, Piedmont, Italy)

Ritz Nov 2012 Lemon Dessert

A layered Amadei chocolate ganache with praline was a masterclass of chocolate confectionary. Tonka bean ice cream gave colour and textural contrast, with a refreshing element which this rich dessert needed. The attention to detail in this dish, as with the other desserts, was astounding.(Wine: Pedro Ximenez, Bodegas, Hidalgo, Spain – sherry)

Ritz 2012 Chocolate

This is not to say that simpler preparations were unavailable, as seen in the well made croustade of caramelised apple with butterscotch and Muscavado ice cream.

Ritz Nov 2012 Apple

Other aspects of the meal were very satisfying indeed. Service, as usual, was solicitous, informative and unobtrusive. The sommelier demonstrated excellent knowledge and skill in matching some demanding savoury and sweet courses with well-chosen wines.  Melba toast – which has almost disappeared from restaurant tables – provided a lighter alternative to the breads, although these themselves, especially the bacon brioche, were irresistible. Good coffee partnered well dainty petit fours which included crisp macaroons and intense jellies

All this still begs the question as to why The Ritz has not received its much deserved Michelin star. Having visited the restaurant several times, the consistent excellence of the cooking and the increasing but not outlandish creativity cannot be denied. Could there also be an almost perverse inverted snobbery at work which favours the relaxed informality of modern dining and shuns tradition and formality, which are Ritz trademarks? If there is, then it is one of the less attractive features of certain restaurant guides. Surely, there is room for both styles to be recognised and rewarded in the varied world of fine dining.

Relais & Chateaux 2013 Press Release (UK)

Posted on: November 14th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood



Relais & Châteaux is proud to present the 2013 Guide launching five new destinations (Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, Guatemala, Fiji Islands), welcoming 36 new members and announcing 12 new Grands Chefs (minimum of two Michelin stars) including Claude Bosi of London’s Hibiscus.  In total the guide features 520 hotels and restaurants across 60 countries and Salvatore Ferragamo, scion of the international fashion house family, is to be the Relais & Châteaux Ambassador for 2013.

21 new members in Europe include seven in France, six in Italy, two each in Germany and Switzerland, and one each in England, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.  Completing the 36 new members are eight in the Americas (two in the USA, three in Peru, and one each in Chile, Brazil and Guatemala), five in Africa (two in South Africa and one each in Botswana, Kenya and Zambia) and two in Asia-Pacific (one each in Fiji and Taiwan).

The 2013 digital and paper guides work in tandem; QR codes printed on each country map and member page provide a direct link to the Google maps on the Relais & Châteaux website and to the websites of each relevant hotel.

From January 2013, a digital version of the Relais & Châteaux guide will be available on the website in ultra-light mode for quick download as will a free app for iPad/iPhone users ( available in six languages (French, English, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin).  The app facilitates quick access to online/phone reservations, 15,000+ images and 400+ videos of Relais & Chateaux properties, practical information (weather forecast, local time and route by geo-location), Relais & Châteaux news and publications (2013 Guide, L’Ame et l’Esprit magazine, delegation brochures).

Ambassador Salvatore Ferragamo, grandson of the famous Italian shoemaker – also Salvatore  – made his name as a professional polo player in the ‘80s and set up the Florence Polo Club in 2001.  He joined the family business Salvatore Ferragamo SpA in 1990 and in 1993 began the restoration of the family wine estate and village of Il Borro near Arezzo, Tuscany.  Il Borro delivered its first vintage, Il Borro IGT Toscana Rosso, in 1999 and offers hospitality of high quality in its villas, apartments and osteria.  Il Borro is one of Italy’s new members of Relais & Chateaux, an exclusive collection of the world’s finest hotels and restaurants

For reservations call Relais & Châteaux: 00 800 2000 00 02 (toll free) or visit:

Details of new members follow :


England x 1 gourmet restaurant

Hibiscus: Grand Chef Claude Bosi and Master of Wine Isabelle Legeron have created one of Britain’s finest 2-Michelin star restaurants in London’s West End


La Grenouillère: restaurant with four rooms and eight suites with a rustic ambience in La-Madeleine-sous-Montreuil (Pas-de-Calais)

Jiva Hill Park Hotel:  hotel with 28 rooms and six suites between the Jura and Mont Blanc at Crozet (Ain)

Restaurant L’Oxalys: the highest gourmet restaurant in Europe, at 2300m in Val Thorens; Grand Chef Jean Sulpice has 2 Michelin stars

Passage 53: a tiny restaurant with no menu and minimalist decor in Paris, run by owner, Guillaume Guedj; Grand Chef Shinichi Sato has 2 Michelin stars

Hôtel Le Savoie & Spa: stunning chalet-style accommodation in Val d’Isère; 14 rooms and 11 suites beautifully located for skiing and summer mountain holidays

Hôtel Le Chabichou Restaurants & Spa: Michel Rochedy’s superb hotel (39 rooms and suites) and 2-Michelin star restaurant ; half a century in Courchevel 1850

Restaurant Mirazur: Grand Chef Mauro Colagreco draws on his Italian and Argentinian roots at his inspirational 2-Michelin star restaurant in Menton

 The Netherlands

Restaurant da Vinci: Chef Margo Reuton recently awarded 2 Michelin stars for her team’s exceptional creations and wine/food pairings in Maasbrecht


Lenkerhof Gourmet Spa Resort : spa and gastronomy in Lenk (Bernese Oberland) with 80 rooms, junior suites and suites, and sulphur-rich thermal springs

In Lain Hotel Cadonau: exquisite 15 suite hotel in Brail (Engadin); the 17th-century property has been in the Cadonau family for three generations.


Schosshotel im Grunewald: supremely elegant Baroque Palais Pannwitz in residential Berlin offers 43 rooms and 10 suites designed by Karl Lagerfeld

Die Sonner Frankenberg: offers 60 rooms and suites in picturesque Frankenberg, in enchanting countryside that inspired the Brothers Grimm


Château Monfort: a fairy-tale urban château of 77 rooms and eight suites in the centre of Milan

Hôtel Londra Palace: Venetian palazzo (53 rooms and suites) with breathtaking views of St Mark’s, the lagoon and rooftops of Venice

Il Borro: a stunning 700-acre Tuscan estate and borgo offering 18 apartments and three villas, fine wines and superb food

Borgo dei Conti Resort: 46 rooms and 12 suites in a collection of neo-gothic buildings in Perugia, at the heart of beautiful Umbria

Palazzo Manfredi: 18 rooms and suites in a boutique hotel of exquisite refinement at the heart of Ancient Rome.  A fine art collection and great views of the Colosseum and Forum

Petra Segreta Resort & Spa: low-rise luxury wellness hotel (13 rooms, seven suites) hidden in the hills of northern Sardinia, with beautiful coastal views


Hotel Bela Vista: The authentic Algarve experience offering 38 rooms and suites – luxury on the amazing beach of Praia da Rocha, Portimao


Abadía Retuerta Ledomaine: luxury accommodation (18 rooms, three suites) and winery in a 12th Century Abbey on the Duero, east of Valladolid (north central Spain)



Ol Donyo Lodge : ground-breaking sustainable bush lodge (10 suites) in the hills of the Chyulu National Park (Maasailand) ; views of Kilimanjaro and migrating elephants


Royal Chundu Luxury Zambezi Lodges : two luxurious lodges (10 rooms/four suites), on the banks of the Zambezi above Victoria Falls ; 15km of private waterway protected by rapids


Zarafa Camp :  four immense tented suites raised up on wooden decking and shaded by ebony and red ivory trees.  Luxury and simplicity in the Selinda Reserve (Ngamiland).  Lion, elephant, prolific nocturnal wildlife

South Africa

Delaire Graff Lodges andSpa : 10 suites diamond tycoon Laurence Graff’s art, hospitality and wine destination, overlooking the Stellenbosch,vineyards (Western Cape)

Morukuru Family : three villas (two suites + three suites + five suites) in Madikwe big-five game reserve (NW Province) 110km from Sun City



Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort :, 21 rooms and two suites for total relaxation in beautiful natural surroundings (mountains, water), one hour from Taipei


Dolphin Island:, 13-acre private island just off Fiji’s main island (Viti Levu) offering four rooms (eight guests) for the ultimate South Pacific escape


United States of America

Menton : Grand Chef Barbara Lynch’s acclaimed restaurant in Boston’s Fort Point Channel, combining refined French technique and soulful Italian cooking.

Quince  Grand Chef Michael Tusk’s French/Italian inspired menus celebrate the seasonal bounty of Northern California, in San Francisco’s Jackson Square neighbourhood



El Convento Boutique Hotel : a 25-room sanctuary next to a Capuchin Convent in the 18th Century Unesco World Heritage town of Antigua


Astrid & Gastón : Peruvian ingredients and local cooking methods are fused with a dizzying array of global flavours in Gaston Acurio’s flagship South American restaurant in Lima

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Suites :a privileged space for retreat and repose at the foot of Machu Picchu (Cusco) ; 13 suites in artisan-crafted casitas

Titilaka : 18 lake-view suites on a private peninsula beside magical Lake Titicaca on the Peru/Bolivia border, altitude 3800m, 36 km from Puno


Saint Andrews Gramado : Brazil’s only true country house hotel, inspired by baronial Scottish castles, in the beautiful Quilombo Valley (Rio Grande del Sul); 11 suites


The Cliffs Preserve : natural retreat and eco resort with 18 suites set in 8000 acres of pristine forest and six miles of Northern Patagonia’s imposing coastline

Michelin Guide Chicago 2013 PR & Bib Listing

Posted on: November 12th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Michelin press releaes – two merged – covering Michelin Guide to Chicago 2013, see end of post to gain pdf files of official releases and Bib listings.

Michelin releases its famed guide to Chicago’s best restaurants

Chicago’s culinary scene shines bright with 433 restaurants recognized for excellence and quality. 11/14/2012

Michelin releases its famed guide to Chicago's best restaurants

(Boulogne – Nov. 14, 2012) Michelin today unveiled its third edition MICHELIN guide Chicago, showcasing the finest restaurants and hotels in the city.

This new edition confirms the culinary dynamism revealed last year in Chicago: Alinea who achieved MICHELIN’s three star distinction in 2012 maintained top honors this year. Three MICHELIN stars is considered the ultimate international recognition in the culinary world only one hundred restqyrqnts in the world worldwide currently have this distinction.

This year’s guide, however, sees all-new names in the highly revered two-star selections. L2O and graham elliot were promoted from one to two stars. This year also saw plenty of changes in the one-star selections. Three restaurants—Acadia, Goosefoot, and Mexique – earned their first one MICHELIN star distinction, a significant culinary accomplishment. And after one-year absence, Sixteen returned to the one-star category. All in all, there are 16 Chicago establishments in this category for 2013.

The inclusion in the MICHELIN guide Chicago 2013 is an acknowledgment of culinary excellence and quality. A total of 433 restaurants are included in the selection which spans Chicago’s downtown neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs. Michelin inspectors embraced a total of 44 different cuisines this year, reflecting the tremendous diversity found across the region.

The release of the MICHELIN guide Chicago 2013 comes one week after Michelin announced that 64 restaurants earned the distinction of Bib Gourmand. These Bib Gourmand establishments offer two courses plus a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (excluding tax and gratuity) and are known as the Michelin inspectors’ favorites for good value.

Starred restaurants and Bib Gourmands are only two of the multiple categories within the MICHELIN guide Chicago 2013. Others include the popular “Under $25” category, restaurants that serve brunch and those that stay open for late dining. In addition, restaurants with notable wine, sake and cocktail lists feature symbols for easy reference. New for all MICHELIN Guide 2013 editions are two symbols: one highlighting notable beer lists and the other indicating restaurants with a dim sum offering.

Chicago is one of three cities in the U.S. where Michelin publishes an annual guide. Both the MICHELIN guide New York City 2013 and the MICHELIN guide San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country 2013 went on sale last month.

The MICHELIN guide Chicago 2013 will go on sale Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at a price of $18.99, and is also available on digital version:

  • Mobile applications for the 2013 MICHELIN guide New York and San Francisco are available for iPhone, via the App Store (at a price of $4.99), and the MICHELIN guide Chicago will be available on 20 November.
  • eBook versions of the 2013 MICHELIN guide for New York and San Francisco are currently available via Apple (iBooks) and Barnes & Noble for the Nook. The eBook for the 2013 MICHELIN guide Chicago will be available on Apple and Barnes & Noble on 14 November.

The application and eBook are the perfect complement to the printed guide, enabling users to consult the Michelin inspectors’ selection of hotels and restaurants at any time.

Michelin has done as much to enhance mobility as any company in the world. The company patented the pneumatic, or air-filled, tire in the late 1800s. This was a milestone moment in mobility, permitting automobile owners to travel at great length in a single journey. Then, in an effort to prompt travelers to enjoy their newfound mobility, the company created guides and detailed maps to steer travelers on their way. The most famous publication that developed from this is the internationally recognized MICHELIN guide.

Thanks to the rigorous MICHELIN guide selection process that is applied independently and consistently around 23 countries, the MICHELIN guide has become an international benchmark in fine dining. The selections of all restaurants in the guide are made by Michelin’s famously anonymous inspectors who dine in the Chicago area regularly. These local inspectors are trained to scrupulously apply the same time-tested methods used by Michelin inspectors for many decades throughout the world. This ensures a uniform, international standard of excellence. As a further guarantee of complete objectivity, Michelin inspectors pay all their bills in full.

To find out more about the MICHELIN guide, the MICHELIN guide inspectors and the history of the MICHELIN guide, visit

Below is the reproduced official Michelin announcement of Michelin Chicago 2013 with attachments:-

The MICHELIN guide reveals Chicago’s 2013 Bib Gourmands

64 Restaurants are Designated the “Inspectors’ Favorites for Good Value.” 11/08/2012

The MICHELIN guide reveals Chicago's 2013 Bib Gourmands

CHICAGO (November 7, 2012) – Michelin released its coveted list of Bib Gourmands exactly oneweek prior to the launch of the highly anticipated MICHELIN guide Chicago 2013. There were 64 restaurants selected across the Chicagoland area this year, with 19 newly added to the category.

Inclusion in the MICHELIN guide is, in itself, synonymous with quality, and while the Michelin stars are certainly the most celebrated, the Bib Gourmand designation is a highly desired distinction among restaurateurs. It represents restaurants that serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included). Most importantly, these are places that Michelin’s esteemed inspectors would frequent themselves.

The MICHELIN guide Chicago 2013 offers readers a tremendously diverse selection to choose from. Among the Bib Gourmands, 22 different cuisine types are represented and choices are provided in each of the 14 areas covered, including the neighborhoods of downtown Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

The Bib Gourmands are selected by Michelin’s famously anonymous inspectors who dine across Chicago regularly. These local inspectors are trained to scrupulously apply the same time-tested methods used by Michelin inspectors for many decades throughout the world. This ensures a uniform, international standard of excellence. As a further guarantee of complete objectivity, Michelin inspectors pay all their bills in full.

The third edition of the MICHELIN guide Chicago goes on sale Wednesday, November 14 at $18.99. For more information on the inspectors and the guide go to

Official pdf of Press Releases: Michelin-releases-its-famed-guide-to-Chicagos-best-restaurants

Official pdf of Star and Bib Gourmand Listings: Michelin_Chicagos-2013-Bib-Gourmands-list

November 2012: Fine Dining Guide November Newsletter

Posted on: November 7th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Much to report after a busy second half of the year!  The site maintained a focus on restaurant and hotel reviews supplemented with feature articles and broad guide coverage.

The iTunes podcast series continues – as always the links are to the written transcripts, you may find the podcast series on iTunes by typing “Restaurant Dining (UK)” into the main iTunes store search box.  fine-dining-guide continues to have a YouTube Channel for which the site commissioned and uploaded a professional piece on Diego Masciaga of The Waterside Inn preparing the special dish of Canard a la Presse. (Thanks to Pro Motion Media).

The site has conducted four interviews since the last newsletter spanning three chefs and the editor of Michelin GB&I, Rebecca Burr.

Interviews in Second Half 2012

With experience at The Orrery, The Oak Room Marco Pierre White and The Lanesborough, Phil Thompson has subsequently spent ten years at Auberge du Lac in Welwyn.  Phil gives an insight into his background, motivation and cooking philosophies in an in-depth interview.

Rebecca Burr has completed her second year as editor of the four Michelin Guides – Michelin Great Britain & Ireland 2013 (Red Guide), Michelin Main Cities of Europe, Michelin London Guide and Michelin Eating out in Pubs.  Rebecca speaks of her observations of the industry as well as the workings of the guides.

A former key player in the burgeoning Ramsay empire of the 2000s, Jason Atherton took the plunge of leaving the stable at Maze and going solo with Pollen Street Social – the move has proved a great success as the accolades continue to pour in – Jason speaks about his kitchen ideas and the challenges of making the most of television media potential.

Sonny’s Kitchen is the latest incarnation of Sonny’s – a long time Barnes stalwart owned by Rebecca Mascarenhas – here business partners Phil Howard and Rebecca discuss their excitement at the re-launch.

Twitter/Facebook: Both continue to deliver good traffic to the site – @finediningguide has over 4050 followers in November 2012 and the newer facebook page 523 likes.  The new template designs for facebook and twitter (header)  gets a thumbs up from fine-dining-guide.  You may go directly to the site’s pages on twitter or facebook simply by clicking on the ‘f’ and ‘t’ buttons in the top right corner of every page on the site.

Restaurant/Hotel Reviews: Reviews by Daniel Darwood have included North Road, Artichoke, Gilpin Lodge (Hotel & Restaurant), White Oak, Holbeck Ghyll (Hotel & Restaurant), Linthwaite House (Hotel & Restaurant), The Half Moon, Allium, Lucknam Park (Hotel & Restaurant) and Auberge du Lac (See Reviews)

Guides: We’ve just been through the GB Guide season as applicable to fine-dining-guide.  The Michelin Guide GB&I 2013 was leaked a week early with exciting news for Michael Wignall at the Latymer (See interview, review), L’Enclume (See review) and Sketch (See Pierre Gagnaire Interview, review) all being promoted to two Michelin Stars.  At the same time L’Enclume was elevated to the lofty 10/10 in The Which? Good Food Guide 2013 following in the illustrious footsteps of Chez Nico, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and The Fat Duck. Sat Bains, Jason Atherton and Nathan Outlaw all recording impressive 9/10 scores, while Claude Bosi (See interview) gained the maximum 5 AA Rosettes in the 2013 AA Restaurant Guide.

Now that the number of Michelin Two Star restaurants in GB&I is twenty strong, how about a promotion to three stars for the 2014 guide?  Some way off at present but fine dining guide is tipping The Ledbury (See Brett Graham interview) to make that step up!

Opinion/News: Diversity is the order of the day in 2012 –  in every sense – from street food to pop ups, from ethnic cuisines to new classical french, from foraging to ‘food technologies’, from local to global, from formality to informality, from single concept dining to big menus.  We have every kind of choice available to us as consumers. The number of new ventures appears to outstrip the closures too, even in these difficult economic times.

Just a couple of years ago you could hardly visit a French (based or inspired) style top end fine dining restaurant without encountering foams, jellies and an array of chemical products.  Perhaps a natural extension of chefs exploring their signatures with the aid of ‘the new technologies of food’ combined with the legacy of the great impact made by Heston Blumenthal since the late 1990s.

Within the stove of offerings, foams, jellies and chemical products are still to be found but they are less pervasive –  So too with the concept of foraging or the appearance of obscure ingredients (which Andy Hayler describes as the ‘Sea Buckthorn’ factor or ‘delicate leaves applied with tweezers’)

Perhaps there’s truth in the saying that all things go in cycles.  The 2013 Sunday Times Top 200 Restaurants in Britain (Harden’s Based), the Zagat Guide 2013 and indeed the increasingly top end restaurant relevant Trip Advisor have been busy dishing out accolades to the more classical French based restaurants like Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, Gidleigh Park, The Waterside Inn, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Le Gavroche, The Square, Pollen Street Social and so on.  In addition, Pierre Koffmann and Phil Howard both recently received prestigious ‘Chef’s Chef’ Awards.  These ‘new-classical-led’ restaurants are also constantly full with waiting lists.

Perhaps symbolic to this potential shift in the French-led category of fine dining is The Ledbury, which continues to accrue awards like hot dinners while treading a path perfectly across the trends – not too classical, not too cerebral, not too foraging, not too complicated but not too simple, and they too are always full.  This might also explain why they score heavily with both reader-led guides (Trip Advisor, Zagat, Hardens) and inspector-led guides (Michelin, Which? AA).

There will always be those that do what they do just so darn well that they succeed amongst any tidal ebbs and flows such as L’Enclume, Sat Bains or Hibiscus.  In general, a fascinating time in the market, a state of flux, and not just in terms of diversity of choice but tellingly in terms of cycles of taste amongst the great British dining public.

Chef Interview: Phil Thompson (Auberge du Lac, Welwyn)

Posted on: November 6th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood
Chef Phil Thompson

Executive Chef Brocket Hall, Phil Thompson


Phil Thompson has been an ever present at Auberge du Lac for nearly ten years.  While being philosophical about the future, Phil retains strong ambition with a determination to drive the restaurant ever forward.  His career has seen him spend time in some great kitchens – experience which gave him the tools for success at the highest level.  Phil found time to speak to Simon Carter and Daniel Darwood of fine-dining-guide in late October 2012.  Interview took place in the lounge of Auberge du Lac restaurant.

Tell us some background about yourself?

I’m from Dagenham in Essex and come from a family of chefs: my nan, my mum, my sister and my uncle were all chefs.

When I was eleven or twelve years old, my uncle had a contract catering business (for weddings and christenings) and on Saturdays I used to go along and wash up for him – so while my friends were out playing football in the park, I was washing up! My uncle would show me aspects of food preparation, like blanching a tomato and so on and my interest just naturally grew in cooking.

On the school holidays I would go and work with my mum in the Ford Dagenham kitchens and wash up while my mum would show me how to cook stews and apple pies.

After leaving school, I went to Thurrock College to complete my NVQ Level 1 and NVQ Level 2.  I decided that I would be the best chef I could possibly be and that desire and aspiration led me to London.

While I was at college I did two weeks work experience at The Lanesborough under Paul Gayler.  This was a really positive experience and they said I should get in touch should I be looking for a job at the end of my course.  A year later, after college, I did exactly that – the head chef and sous chef remembered me and after a day’s trial I got offered a job.

I stayed at The Lanesborough for two and half years, covering the corners of the kitchens from banqueting to larder, from afternoon tea through to room service.  It was a great kitchen, there were no shouting sous chefs; it was relatively calm, relaxed and focused – you did the hours but I wouldn’t call it a tough kitchen by kitchen standards.

Then I went to The Orrery – which was tough!  Chris Galvin and the team achieved a Michelin Star at the restaurant.  It was a great but hard kitchen: If I had left college and gone straight there I would possibly have left the industry, because it was such a massive culture shock.  I look back now and many of the team there have gone onto gain Michelin stars in their own right; it was an excellent learning experience.

When I decided to move on, Chris Galvin helped me by calling around his network of chefs – I remember the first he tried was Phil Howard at The Square, who had 26 chefs and 3 stages constantly on the go and just couldn’t take me.  I did a couple of stages at Gary Rhodes and Chez Bruce before doing nine months at a new opening – St Martin’s Lane.

Toward the end of my time at St Martin’s Lane, Chris (Galvin) got in touch and suggested I call his brother Jeff (Galvin) at The Oak Room Marco Pierre White.

Jeff (Galvin) was about to become Head Chef at either Les Saveurs or L’Escargot and was in the process of getting a team together.  The result was that I worked at The Oak Room for Jeff (Galvin) for a couple of months (March/April 2000) as part of a group of four chefs who were being prepared for the kitchen at The Picasso Room, L’Escargot.

L’Escargot had a small brigade with an amazing dining room for guests, it was a real privilege to work in that environment.

Chris and Jeff Galvin have had the biggest impact on my career, style and cooking ability. Chris (Galvin) showed me man management and how to bring out the best in people – more of a quiet focus than pressured shouting.  And Jeff (Galvin) just had an aura about him as a cook – you would watch him cook a piece of meat and be inspired to “want to cook like Jeff”

I’m pleased to say that Jeff (Galvin) remains a good friend, lives just round the corner and eats here quite regularly with his wife.

When I came to Brocket Hall, I like to think that I brought with me the disciplines learned from the Lanesborough and the Orrery, the man management skills of Chris (Galvin) and the inspiration to cook in an ever better way from Jeff (Galvin).  Yes, it took me a while to find my own signature but felt I had all the grounding I needed to be successful in the future.

Nearly ten years later, I’m delighted that the ‘new boy’ in the kitchen has been with me quite some time right through the longest serving at nine years.  We’ve bonded well as a team and I think that has shown in what we have delivered to customers over the years.

Tell us about your sourcing of ingredients?

The most important thing is to have long standing positive relationships with suppliers.  I’m not one of those chefs that will spend all day shouting down the phone at a supplier.  In all cases the relationships are strong and in certain cases they have even become friends; even to the point of dining in the restaurant here with their families.

I would hope, for example, that should they have three Sea Bass and are working out which one comes to Brocket Hall then I will get the best (smiling).

So we have two suppliers in Cornwall for our fish, who keep us informed of what has come in off the boats: For shellfish it is Loch Fyne in Scotland and for the meat it is Direct Meats, who have state of the art facilities in Colchester.  The latter are based at Knight’s Farm and have strict practices regarding the managing, handling and provenance of produce (sourcing all meat from within a fifty miles radius.)

Once a month the chefs and I will visit around the farms to see how the supply chain works at the same time building an ongoing relationship with the supplier.  This all helps build confidence that we will get the best possible produce.

Every time my butcher rings and says he’s got some really good veal, for example, I’ll take the whole carcass and break it down – it shows the chefs how butchery works and enables us to get all the cuts of meat we need, while allowing us to put dishes on the menu at reasonable prices. We also try and get as many specials on the menu as possible.

We certainly aren’t on the bandwagons of foraging and local produce and where we do forage or use local produce we don’t advertise the fact.  For example, we might forage a reasonable amount of ingredients from the Estate (Brocket Hall) – we do it because its of the right quality first and on our doorstep second. Should someone happen to ask then there’s a nice story behind the ingredient.

Along similar lines I will always try and use British produce, however it has to be the best produce to go on the menu.  For example, should we be considering a duck dish, we might try one from Aylesbury, one from Devon and one from France, the one we put on the menu will be the one that tastes the best!

How do you create a new dish?

It’s a real team effort – particularly so as the restaurant have moved from a big a la carte menu to offering the two tasting menus in conjunction with a smaller a la carte.

The menu evolves and changes over the months rather than changing wholesale with the seasons.  In this way the team can show their creativity – I might say “There’s two weeks left on this Sea Bass dish, what fish dish would fit into the menu and take us forward – you’ve got until next Friday come up with a solution for me” and then we take it from there and experiment until the new dish appears on the menu.  The team really make me proud of their achievements and creativity in delivering new dishes.

How would you describe your cooking signature?

I think the market has gone full circle.  There was a period when you would go out to eat and the entire menu would be jellies, foams, and an array of chemical products.  I think there’s a general move back towards stripping the food back to bring out the most of the ingredients without too much of ‘the technology of food.’

Yes, there is some technology that helps bring something interesting, surprising or just deliver superior execution of the cooking of ingredients, however this must be used in moderation – to assist rather than be the objective of putting a menu together. I believe that when providing the journey of the tasting menus to diners it’s important to apply different cooking techniques across the menu as this excites the diner as well as keeping the team learning and motivated moving forward.

Seasonally, we aim to bring out the best of the flavours that are in season – if someone tries a dish and says ‘that’s nice’ that’s no good – the depth and clarity of flavour should say ‘wow!’

Are there any chefs or restaurants that particularly inspire when you eat out?

I try and eat out with the chefs around once a month and we’re always looking to learn and take things on board that can enhance what we do at Auberge du Lac.

I ate at Sat Bains and I was not sure what to expect, I somehow imagined it might be ‘off the wall’ – in the event the food was first class – brilliant cooking that brought out the flavours of the ingredients in a way that appeared simple but was in fact labour intensive.  For example – onion – cooked five different ways in a jar, with extraordinary intensity of flavour.  I left very impressed, it was a pleasure to eat, a fantastic journey of wow factor flavours on a tasting menu.

Where do you see your cuisine in two or three years time?

There are markets for all types of restaurants, not just fine dining, such as the more relaxed and informal bistro/brasserie style of cooking.  I have the good fortune to have an insight into all types as Executive Chef of Brocket Hall.  Ultimately, you have to take each day as it comes as you never know what is round the corner – right now I’m delighted that Auberge du Lac is evolving with the tasting menus (that can also mix and match with the a la carte).

I feel very fortunate as I have plenty of ambition left in me and aspire to keep progressing the offering at Auberge du Lac, with a great team, in one of the most beautiful settings in the country!

Michelin Eating Out in Pubs 2013, Press Release

Posted on: November 2nd, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood
Michelin Eating Out In Pubs 2013 01/11/2012

The Michelin Eating Out In Pubs Guide 2013 will be available in bookshops and online from Friday 2 November 2012, priced at £13.99 (€16.99 in Ireland).

Michelin Eating out in Pubs CoverThis year’s guide recommends more than 550 pubs – 81 of which are new entries – and they spread from Kylesku in the north of Scotland and Cahersiveen in the west of Ireland, to Perranuthnoe in the south of England and Southwold in the east.

“The standard of pub cooking just keeps getting better and better”, said Rebecca Burr, Editor. “Pubs are often the heartbeat of the local community and it’s been exciting to see that more and more of them are specialising in their own regional ingredients.”

Many pubs are also rising to the challenge when it comes to offering value: “Chefs are becoming more adept at using lesser-known cuts as a means of creating cost conscious set menus, particularly at lunch”, said Burr. “They are also more flexible than in the past, with bar and restaurant menus becoming more easily interchangeable. Some pubs have even started offering breakfast, brunch and afternoon tea.”

Proof of the continuing rise in standards comes as two more pubs were awarded Michelin Stars this year: Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head in Bray, and Guy and Britt Manning’s Red Lion Freehouse in East Chisenbury. “The food in these two pubs is simply terrific and they make you appreciate that not only do we have a proud culinary heritage of our own in this country but we also have a huge number of very talented and imaginative chefs working in or owning pubs”.

First and foremost, pubs are included in the guide because of the quality of their food but there are always those that offer something a little extra, be it their character, setting or service. These are pointed out by our ‘Inspectors’ favourite’ symbol.

We also select one special pub as our ‘Pub of the Year’ and, for 2013, this accolade goes to The Gunton Arms in Thorpe Market. Burr commented, “This pub  beautifully located in a 1,000 acre deer park. It has a great bar, a terrific terrace and a buzzing yet laid-back atmosphere. The cooking is unfussy, British and seasonal, and many dishes are cooked over the open fire. There are also eight luxurious bedrooms and two lovely residents’ sitting rooms. This really is a special place”.

Each entry in the guide features a colour photograph and an in-depth description, along with examples of a typical starter, main course and dessert, plus a list of real ales served. Opening times, prices and directions are also included, as well as regional maps and indexes by both pub and town name. The pubs whose accommodation we recommend are also highlighted. “More and more pubs are giving hotels a run for their money”, said Burr. “Many people prefer to stay somewhere that offers a more personal touch, where they can feel part of the local community.”