Leisure Marketing

Sep 23, 2015

Michelin Guide Editor Interview

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Inerview by Leisure Marketing MD James Day for www.eat-the-midlands.co.uk (ETM)

Carters of Moseley. Chef Brad Carter Receives Michelin Star 2015There are many days where we have the privilege to speak with, eat with and occasionally socialise with some of the regions finest Chefs and producers during our hospitality support – but there are few days more finer than this week – not only congratulating Birmingham’s newest ‘Star’ in person but also speaking with the editor of the Guide which awarded the Star, and those who have supported him in his ascendancy – even from a student!

The results of the Michelin Guide 2016 entrants and exits was announced a day early by an unwitting on-line book shop releasing an ‘embargoed’ book a day early to a Chef who began to share on twitter – so Michelin took control and announced the risers and fallers via twitter themselves off their own account – eat-the-midlands.co.uk (ETM) asked Editor Rebecca Burr (RB) how Michelin dealt with the leak and in particular the news about Birmingham’s new ‘Star’ entrant, Carters of Moseley.

ETM: Rebecca, How have the past 24 hours been since the ‘early’ release of the winners and losers?

RB: It was a challenging day yesterday but we reacted to the early leak and managed to take the lead with our social media account @MichelinGuideUK and our followers helped spread the news – it’s a very important day for many of the UKs’ Chefs and it’s only fair they hear it from the horses mouth as it were and not as rumour, so the blip was only short term and thankfully the news was received very positively. It is a challenge of modern media communications.
ETM: What would you say are the key changes to this years guide entrants compared to last?
RB: We always try and remain consistent in our assessments. Restaurants are constantly opening and sadly some closing and the UK is very prolific in its range of openings so our inspectors need to ensure our principles are applied to whatever the food style or pedigree of the Chef – this year the standards have continued to improve with 206 new entrants overall – including our two new Two Michelin Star venues in London which are both Japanese – it indicates the diversity of the UK restaurant market.
ETM: With the launch this time last year of your twitter account @MichelinGuideUK have you yourselves experienced any challenges in your ‘tone and style’ of what you communicate?
RB: It has been a learning curve for us too this year – Michelin is historically perceived as secretive, only publishing each printed guide once a year, so we wanted to open up our communications and engage more with our public and ultimately our customers – we sell guide books, so it’s important to embrace the changing markets and provide an on-going up to date narrative – which we also do with our website viamichelin.co.uk
ETM: Do you think the day will come when you launch all the Stars on social media to alleviate the risk of leaks?
RB: We did share the ‘Bib Gourmand’ announcement this year on Twitter – venues that serve 3 courses on a Saturday night for £28 or less – which is an indication of quality and value – very important to our readers and these are on the increase, so we were delighted with the results.
ETM: So, on to the Stars of the show – another Star awarded to Birmingham for Carters of Moseley for popular restaurateurs Brad Carter and Holly Jackson – what were your thoughts on that announcement?
Carters Chef Patron Brad Carter with Partner Holly Jackson delighted at their Michelin Star newsCarters Chef Patron Brad Carter with Partner Holly Jackson delighted at their Michelin Star news
RB: We were all delighted – I personally think Brad has got it spot on this year! He has been consistent in his delivery of his food and the service is always friendly. I have eaten there and it’s a lovely neighbourhood restaurant – his food is simple and focuses on flavor. I know they are popular in Birmingham and the Midlands and rightly so and we are delighted for them. I’m delighted to read too that he is not going to change his style but focus on 3 or 4 simple ingredients.
ETM: Celebrating Five Stars is unprecedented in any City outside London, what is it do you think that makes Birmingham so prevalent?
RB: It’s hard to say. There is no set formula and we grade every venue as an individual and every town and City the same alongside venues out in the sticks. There is a lot of culinary heritage in Birmingham and Chefs do return to their roots, with all the Chefs originating from the region. There is also, I am sure some friendly rivalry, which helps maintain the standards alongside the supplier network. I am delighted for Birmingham and the region.
ETM: How much importance do your inspectors put on regional and seasonal produce?
RB The main ingredients in any dish is flavour and application of the ingredients and their relevance. We do have a lot of quality produce in this country and choice all year round. Local is not always best – but if it is, then Chefs would always be encouraged to source it.
ETM: In Birmingham most of the Michelin venues now focus on set tasting menus – which is a trend across the UK – do you welcome this?
RB: It’s all about customer choice. If menus offer a range, choice and are refreshed on a regular basis it attracts more customers. Those that just focus on one single menu are narrowing their market, which I worry about slightly. Outside London restaurants need to rely more on regulars not just experience seekers. Menus of the day are a welcome addition to any restaurant by customers, indicating freshness.
ETM: There are a lot of Chefs out there who we meet regularly who seek a Michelin Star. What advice would you give them?
RB: Focus on your food, own style and customers. That’s it. It’s not about second guessing the guides – after all it’s the day to day customers who keep restaurants in business, guides are just recognition of quality and consistency. When it’s right, the accolades will come – we also encourage our Guide readers to complete the forms supplied in our guide books and inform us of places they like and why – it acts as an aid memoir to our inspectors – we always like to discover new places like any diner – If chefs get a chance to try other venues, then that too is good to gain broader experience.
ETM: finally with the growth of Birmingham and the Midlands culinary scene do you see a dedicated Birmingham or Midlands guide book in the future like your London Guide?
RB It’s an interesting thought – never say never but we need to listen to our readers and demand – it’s down to the regions Chefs to maintain their focus and standards.
ETM: Thank you on behalf of the Midlands diners and Eat-the-Midlands.co.uk for your time and on-going support for the region. We look forward to chatting next year.

More information www.eat-the-midlands.co.uk


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