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Culture

Chef is first Chinese to get Michelin's coveted three stars

Latest update : 2008-12-03

Chan Yan-tak of the Lung King Heen Cantonese restaurant in Hong Kong is the first Chinese chef to earn the coveted three stars awarded by the authoritative French gastronomy guide Michelin.

AFP - Culinary bible Michelin on Tuesday gave its coveted three-star rating to a Chinese chef for the first time, as French gastronome Joel Robuchon brought his global total of stars to 24.
  
Launching its inaugural guide to restaurants and hotels in Hong Kong and Macau, Michelin inspectors gave three stars to Lung King Heen, a Cantonese restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel run by Chinese chef Chan Yan-tak.
  
They also awarded three stars to Robuchon's Robuchon a Galera, in the Grand Lisboa casino resort in Macau, and two to L'Atelier de Joel Rubuchon in Hong Kong.
  
Lung King Heen, which translates to "view of the dragon", and Robuchon a Galera were the only restaurants to secure three stars in the new guide.
  
Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin guides, said the company had been monitoring Chan's career very closely, and that the restaurant had been inspected 12 times to give it the three-star approval.
  
"We have followed him for a few years, actually for 10 years.... We have been very impressed by his cuisine," Naret told reporters at the launch of the guide in Hong Kong. "He is the first Chinese chef to get three stars."
  
Chan took his first cooking job at the age of just 13 and has since worked in top restaurants across Hong Kong in a career that has spanned around 40 years.
  
He was lured out of retirement to open the restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel three years ago.
  
A total of 40 stars were awarded to restaurants in the two former colonies, with more than 250 dining spots and hotels featuring in the new guide which will go on sale on Friday and is available in English and Chinese.
  
More than 30 culinary styles ranging from Dim Sum to Swiss will be featured in the guide, which was founded in 1900 as a drivers' companion to restaurants in France, but made the leap to Asian cities last year with Tokyo's first edition.
  
Three stars indicate "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey" while two stars mean "excellent cooking, worth a detour". One star promises a "very good restaurant in its category".
  
"When we launch a new guide in a city or a country, it's because the gastronomic scene of that city or that country is interesting, diverse, rich," Naret said.
  
"And that is what the Hong Kong and Macau gastronomic scene is all about."
  
Naret said Michelin was hoping to sell 100,000 copies of the Hong Kong Macau guide, following the huge success of the Tokyo edition, which sold 300,000 copies in its first few weeks after the city became the most starred in the world.
  
He said the 12 anonymous inspectors had each visited hundreds of hotels and restaurants during the year in Hong Kong and Macau, and they included one inspector from Hong Kong and one from mainland China.
  
Some reports have complained that the team of mainly-European inspectors would not have the background to discern different standards of Asian cooking but Naret denied that was a problem.
  
"You do not have to be French to understand French cuisine, you do not have to be Chinese to understand Chinese cuisine," he said.
  
Robuchon holds the highest number of stars for any chef, with a total of 24 awarded to his various restaurants across the world.
  
Compatriot Alain Ducasse has 16 stars, while British chef Gordon Ramsay has 12, a spokeswoman for Michelin said.

Date created : 2008-12-02

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