Michelin Stars 2017 Predictions: one or two new stars for Ireland, plus five or six Bibs Gourmand
Michelin will be announcing its stars for Great Britain and Ireland on October 3. For the first time, the announcement will be at an invitation-only event - to be held at the Institution of Technology and Engineering in London - presumably in response to the huge attention that its rival awards, the World's 50 Best, garnered for its announcement in New York back in June. Last year's Michelin stars were leaked ahead of their due date.
Ireland currently has no three-star restaurants, one two-star restaurant (Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud) and 10 restaurants (two in the north) with one star as well as a clatter of more casual places recognised by a Bib Gourmand. Kevin Thornton remains the only Irish chef ever to have held two stars, but his restaurant Thornton's lost its remaining star last year and will close at the end of next month.
Michelin doesn't make it easy for people to understand the criteria on which it bases its decision-making, and there are plenty within the industry who have had enough of what they see as a culture of smoke and mirrors. There's no denying that stars are good for business, even though the newer breed of gastro-tourist may be more inclined to use the 50 Best list as his or her guide. No Irish restaurants feature on that list, though, so Michelin remains important here.
The Michelin Guide's Twitter feed is a tease. Over the summer, the inspectors have been travelling around Ireland. Amongst the restaurants that they have visited in the West are Moran's on the Weir in Kilcolgan, where they ate "super fresh sole perfectly cooked on the bone", Linnane's Lobster Bar in New Quay for "oysters and mussels galore" and Vina Mara in Galway, where the "bacon & boxty" got the thumbs up, as did the lobster at Inis Meáin. In Cork, the inspectors liked Mews in Baltimore, while Pilgrim's in Roscarberry also came in for praise for its "generous Irish hospitality and portion sizes to match" as did Blair's Cove for "simple things done well".
Garrett Byrne of the starred Campagne in Kilkenny (pictured above), reckons that the 2017 announcement might include one or two new stars for Ireland, plus five or six Bibs Gourmand, but declined to speculate as to which restaurants may be in the frame. Irish chefs in the running will have sleepless nights between now and October 3. And there is concern that at least one star may be lost, which is not a prospect that anyone will relish.
From now until the end of the year is peak entertaining season. Gizzi Erskine's new book is packed with crowd-pleasing recipes for feasts and celebrations for everything from Halloween to New Year's Day. Just don't mention the C word. Yet. Published by Mitchell Beazley at €25.
Future food stars
The closing date for Young Chef of the Year 2016 is September 21. The competition is a great way for chefs in the early stages of their careers to get their name on the radar of the industry's big cheeses.
There will be plenty of foodie fun at the National Ploughing Championships, where SuperValu's Good Food Karma Project arena will feature cooks Kevin Dundon, Martin Shanahan, The Happy Pear, Sharon Hearne Smith, as well as ambassadors Bernard Brogan and Anna Geary.