Arnaud Lallement joins exclusive club of restaurants with three Michelin stars
Arnaud Lallement's family affair joins exclusive club of restaurants with three Michelin stars
A chef from France's Champagne region whose restaurant offers 600 of the sparkling wines has been admitted into the exclusive club of establishments with three Michelin stars.
Arnaud Lallement, of the family-run L'Assiette Champenoise near Reims, received a standing ovation from his fellow three-star chefs at a ceremony in Paris.
The chef was the only addition to the top ranking in this year's Michelin Guide, gastronomy's bible and restaurant-reviewing institution, which praised him for his use of "ingredients of exceptional quality" and "recipes full of character".
Lallement, 39, said his first reaction was to think of his father, Jean-Pierre, who died at the age of 50 in 2002.
His father opened a restaurant near Reims in the Champagne heartland of northeastern France in 1975 before moving in 1987 to the table now run by his son at Tinqueux.
The restaurant is still very much a family affair, with his wife working in the eatery and his mother and sister in a hotel that is also part of the family business.
And in a tribute to his father, blue lobster is never off the menu. The dish was one of his father's signatures and Lallement likes to reinterpret it regularly.
Michael Ellis, director of international guides for Michelin, said this year's selection was also notable for the number of young chefs included.
Ellis attributed it to more opportunities for them to set up on their own without taking huge financial risks.
"They are able to get started with just maybe one other person and to progress themselves and their cuisine very rapidly and gain a following."
Ellis said smaller restaurants also represented a way of eating that particularly appealed to young people and that the trend was pushing standards up. "It's bringing the level of food up generally," he said.
"There are people out there who want to eat well and these young chefs generally speaking have very good value for money.
"So it's creating a great dynamic on the gastronomic scene because it's giving people a chance to go out and eat well for not a lot of money."
The world's best-known food guide, Michelin has also been dogged by controversy, with critics accusing it of promoting overly complex, labour-intensive cuisine that is unsustainable for many restaurants and costly for diners.
It has also been accused of favouring big-name chefs like Alain Ducasse or Joel Robuchon, whose global restaurant empires have notched up stars across Michelin's different editions.
Michelin's France 2014 edition lists just 27 establishments with three stars, 10 of which are in Paris. Worldwide, Japan boasts 28 three-star restaurants. France is second with 27, while Germany has 11. Hong Kong and Macau have seven between them.