January 19, 2009 / 1:40 PM / 10 years ago

Female chefs on rise as Michelin awards UK stars

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A record number of female chefs in Britain and Ireland have won coveted Michelin stars for their cuisine, according to the 2009 ranking, loosening men’s grip on the top restaurant jobs.

The “Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2009” hits the shelves on Friday, and a record number of new stars were awarded.

There were no additions to the three-star category, but four more restaurants were given a two-star rating, three of them in London.

“We have never awarded so many stars in a single year before,” said Derek Bulmer, editor of the new edition.

“We can now boast of having a truly mature, rich and exciting restaurant scene. These new stars have been awarded to a host of establishments from gastro pubs and family-run locals to country hotels and fashionable London restaurants.”

He said the geographical spread of Michelin-starred restaurants had improved, with four new stars in Scotland alone, and that a total of 10 women featured in the list this year up from six in 2008.

“If you turn the clock back five, 10 years, you wouldn’t have seen a female chef at the head of some of the most prestigious restaurants,” Bulmer told Reuters.

“Once it becomes noted as a trend, it will encourage more women to enter a profession traditionally dominated by men. If women can see that others can make the top, they will think ‘Why can’t I?’”

Additions to the two-star category were The Dining Room at Whatley Manor, in Wiltshire, plus London establishments Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, Hibiscus and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

Michelin also named 26 new one-star restaurants while removing 12 from the list.

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester has also been tipped for three stars, an indication that he may soon join the elite company of The Waterside Inn and Fat Duck, both near Windsor, and Gordon Ramsay in London.

Bulmer warned that 2009 would be a tough one for restaurants and hotels given the economic climate.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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