Smoked-chocolate eel, raspberry-harissa: chef Alexandre Mazzia, with his daring cuisine, was awarded three Michelin stars on Monday January 18 for his restaurant AM in Marseille, in a new selection in France, maintained despite the closure of restaurants and criticism of the relevance of the ranking in the midst of Covid. A 44-year-old former basketball player, Alexandre Mazzia is the only chef to be promoted in the 2021 guide to this highest gastronomic distinction, bringing the number of three-star chefs in France to 30.
For gastronomic critic Gilles Pudlowski, the Alexandre Mazzia distinction is proof that Michelin “is well in its time with a touch of Fooding spirit”, this guide which promotes young, uninhibited and trendy cuisine and which was bought in 2020 100% by Michelin. Maintaining the selection, as if nothing had happened, however, raised many criticisms and questions about the way in which the closed tables could be evaluated.
The most famous gastronomic guide is the only one to make his selection for the Covid era “according to the same criteria since always” while his competitors have chosen to cancel their awards (such as the British ranking 50 Best), or to readjust to to the pandemic by rewarding the resistant, innovative or united actions of chefs (such as Gault and Millau or La Liste).
“Rarely has a year been so indigestible. Six months of seeing restaurants closed because of viruses, six others of living them in the feverishness of health contingencies,” wrote in a column the food critic of the Figaro Emmanuel Rubin, believing that “this strange vintage” risked questioning the very need for the red guide, criticized for “the opacity of the method and the conditions of inspections”.
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The inspectors have worked “hard” and revised their schedule by canceling their summer vacation when restaurants briefly reopened in France between the two confinements. Reinforcements from neighboring European countries and Asia were also dispatched to France, assured Gwendal Poullennec. If the selection is less extensive than in previous years, each restaurant promoted fully deserves it, he emphasizes.
Marsan, from chef Hélène Darroze in Paris, who sublimates products from the South-West in gourmet and modern dishes, and La Merise by Cédric Deckert in Alsace, for traditional cuisine with refined sauces, are promoted to two stars. 54 new addresses were awarded their first star and 33 establishments were awarded a “green” star, introduced last year, for their eco-responsible approach.
Some demotions concern restaurants that have closed or changed concept. “This year, the chefs have really not been unworthy (…). It is time to highlight all these talents, to encourage professionals and to keep the restaurant clientele mobilized” while waiting for ‘a reopening, concludes Gwendal Poullennec.
Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.
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