Japanese chef wins first ever three-star rating in France
Send a link to a friend
[January 28, 2020]
By Lucien Libert
PARIS (Reuters) - The French edition of the
Michelin Guide, the bible of gastronomy, for the first time in its
history awarded the highest rating of three stars to a Japanese-born
The accolade, unveiled at a ceremony in Paris on Monday evening, went to
chef Kei Kobayashi who, according to the guide, "is a virtuoso at
marrying flavors and always spot-on with his conception of the dish."
Japan has several dozen restaurants with Michelin stars, but Kobayashi
is the first chef from Japan to be awarded the recognition for a
restaurant in France, a country seen by some as the touchstone of fine
Kobayashi was born in Japan's Nagano province where his father was a
chef in a traditional Japanese restaurant.
After being inspired, according to the Michelin guide's biography of the
chef, by watching a documentary on French cooking, he moved to France
and trained under three-star chefs Gilles Goujon and Alain Ducasse.
He set up his Kei restaurant in the French capital nine years ago, and
in the years since accumulated first one and then two Michelin stars,
before achieving the highest accolade.
"How do you achieve it?," he said after being presented at Monday's
ceremony with a chef's white tunic with three stars embroidered onto the
"You need to progress, you need to reach new levels, that's what it is.
You need to look for great products and so on," he said. "So you need
emotion, you need to share the pleasure with the team."
[to top of second column]
Newly awarded three-star Michelin chef Kei Kobayashi of Kei
restaurant reacts on stage next to Gwendal Poullennec, International
Director of Michelin Guides, during the Michelin Guide 2020 award
ceremony in Paris, France, January 27, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
The guide said its reviewers were bowled over in particular by one
of the dishes Kobayashi serves at his restaurant: a garden of
crunchy vegetables, Scottish smoked salmon, a rocket foam and a
Kobayashi was one of three first-time recipients of three stars in
the French 2020 edition of the guide, while there were 11 new
holders of two stars and 49 newly-minted one-star restaurants.
The guide, which was first published in 1900, has been seeking to
embrace innovative chefs, with a particular emphasis on sustainable
But that has irked some in the old guard of French cuisine, who
accuse the guide of putting novelty before quality.
French celebrity chef Marc Veyrat sued the guide after it removed
one of his restaurant's stars, saying the downgrade was unfounded
and tipped him into depression. He lost the court case.
(Reporting by Lucien Libert; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
[© 2020 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2020 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.