How relevant is the Michelin Guide’s assessment of the British food scene? Now in its fifth decade, its annual publication in early October evokes shrieks of delight amongst the newcomers while veterans shake their heads in dismay at its parsimonious awards at the coveted three star level. It is not just the measly number held by Britain (five, compared with double that in Spain, Italy and Germany, while France has 27) but the actual choices that raises eyebrows and tempers.
The British food scene has flourished in the past 30 years, thanks to local talent such as Rowley Leigh, Simon Hopkinson and Alastair Little while the influence of the French-born Roux Brothers, Raymond Blanc and Pierre Koffmann has been incalculable. And of course, when it comes to Italian, Indian, Chinese and Thai Cuisine, Britain can now boast a string of world class restaurants (to Michelin’s credit, their assessments of all of these categories is more or less spot on) – it is at the very top where the credibility of the brand is most at risk.