The 39-year-old owner of a storied lakeside inn in the French Alps was crowned France’s chef of the year by the Gault & Millau gastronomic guide yesterday.

Jean Sulpice won the coveted award a year after taking over L’Auberge du Père Bise, a century-old hotel on the shores of Lake Annecy which has played host to the likes of Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin and Richard Nixon.

Gault & Millau’s owner Côme de Chérisey praised Sulpice for his lightning rise through the rarefied world of French cuisine.

“He is working his way up a high mountain pass,” he said.

On his website, Sulpice describes his food as being “filled with the riches of the mountains” where he grew up.

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His menu gives pride of place to regional products, such as venison, brown trout and Beaufort cheese.

Sulpice ran a two-star Michelin restaurant in Val Thorens ski resort – Europe’s highest – before snapping up the property on Lake Annecy, 100 kilometres to the north, in 2016.

A post shared by Jean Sulpice (@jeansulpice) on Jun 16, 2017 at 7:30am PDT

After a facelift costing several million euros, the stately Auberge reopened to the public in May.

Among the other winners of Gault & Millau’s 2018 awards were 32-year-old Cédric Grolet of the five-star Le Meurice hotel in Paris, named the country’s top pastry chef.

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Born in the Loire region to a truck driver father and hairdresser mother, Grolet has gained a huge following on Instagram for his colourful, fruity creations.

A post shared by Cedric Grolet (@cedricgrolet) on Oct 27, 2017 at 7:19am PDT

Gault & Millau publishes an annual guide of 3,800 eateries across France, over two-thirds of which offer dishes costing under 30 euros (HK$270).

It is less well-known than the Michelin guide, whose stars are seen as a sort of culinary holy grail.