Michelin rewards favored Sarkozy chef with stars

Mon Mar 2, 2009 11:06am EST
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By Crispian Balmer

PARIS (Reuters) - Eric Frechon, one of President Nicolas Sarkozy's favorite chefs, won a coveted third star on Monday in the 2009 Michelin Guide, France's bible for gourmets.

However, the economic crisis loomed large at the unveiling of the Michelin handbook, with restaurateurs and critics warning that the recession might take a bite out of the industry.

The prestigious guide with the red cover is celebrating its 100th anniversary and sprinkled 73 new stars on restaurants across France, with 26 eateries claiming the 3-star rating.

Frechon, chef at the luxury Paris hotel Le Bristol, was the only person in France to be promoted to the top table this year.

"This is the top de top. The culmination of 30 years of work," Frechon told Reuters in a telephone interview as he was cooking at lunchtime.

British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was awarded two stars for his Trianon restaurant in Versailles, which he only took over last year, defying one of France's top food critics, Francois Simon, who branded his dishes as boring and repetitive.

Ramsay already runs a three-star establishment in London and a two star restaurant in New York and has made clear he is gunning for three stars in three different cities.

The emergence of a three star restaurant is a major event in food-crazy France and the promotion of the Bristol has been given added spice because it is a stone's throw from Sarkozy's Elysee Palace and is patronized by the French president.   Continued...

<p>Eric Frechon, chef at the luxury Paris hotel Le Bristol, poses for Reuters March 2, 2009. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer</p>