By Sourish Bhattacharyya
|This is the tenth year that Benaras, the|
first solo restaurant by Atul Kochhar,
has retained its Michelin one-star rating
SIX INDIAN restaurants, all in London, have retained their one-star status in the just-released Michelin Guide 2014 for UK and Ireland — none other Indian establishment elsewhere in Europe, in fact, has yet qualified for a Michelin star. These include the self-owned restaurants of the first two Indians to get Michelin stars — Atul Kochhar of Benaras and Vineet Bhatia of Rasoi, both of whom, incidentally, are ex-Oberoi, or XO. Also on the list is Tamarind, the first Indian restaurant in the UK to be bestowed the honour (when its kitchen was presided over by Kochhar). Tamarind is now headed by the ex-ITC Maurya hand, Alfred Prasad, who’s been acclaimed for his fish and seafood preparations.
The other three Indian stars are Amaya Belgravia, which is run by MW Eat Group, the company that owns the historic Veeraswamy, Chutney Mary and the mass-dining Masala Zone restaurants, and is famous for its dramatic show kitchen with live grills; Quilon at Buckingham Gate, the ‘south-west Indian coastal’ restaurant of the ex-Taj star, Aylur Sriram, who gave up his law studies to become a chef and then earn his spurs for his work at the Taj Bangalore restaurant, Karavalli; and Trishna, the Marylebone Village outpost of Trishna Mumbai, which got its first Michelin star last September. Delhiites may find the last name interesting, given the way Trishna’s Delhi foray met with an ignominious end opposite the Qutab Minar.
Atul Kochhar was only 31 when he got his first Michelin star in 2001 for Tamarind, where he was head chef, and Benaras, his first solo venture, is now 10 years old. The latest Michelin star must be a sweet tenth birthday gift for Benaras and Kochhar, who now also owns two other Indian restaurants.
It was also in 2001 that Vineet Bhatia, who is two year older than Kochhar, got his first Michelin star for Zaika at Kensington High Street. A year after Kochhar opened Benaras, Bhatia set up Rasoi, which has been winning awards and accolades every year, and has critics eating out of his hand.
The Michelin Guide 2014 has made news this year for the promotion it has given Heston Blumental, whose Fat Duck continues to retain its three stars, for Dinner, which opened at the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park in 2011. Dinner has just got its second star and another Blumenthal restaurant, Hinds Head, which like Fat Duck is in the sixteenth-century village of Bray in Berkshire, has one. That makes Blumenthal the fortunate owner of six Michelin stars.
The other restaurant to be upgraded to a two-star rating is The Greenhouse, the Mayfair restaurant run by French chef Arnaud Bignon, but there’s been no new entrant in the elite three-star club, which continues to have Fat Duck, Alain Roux’s The Waterside Inn, also at Bray, Gordon Ramsay at Chelsea and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Mayfair, as its four luminaries. The one-star list has seen a sizeable increase with 15 new names, including Lima, the first Latin American restaurant in the UK and Ireland to get a star.
For Indians, the next big thing will be the elevation of at least one of the one-star restaurants. Till that happens, we still have six good reasons to celebrate.