Top chef in row with Michelin guide

It was the kind of flamboyant outburst you expect from a chef. After being reduced to just one Michelin star in the latest edition of the world’s most famous guide for gourmets, a disgusted Gualtiero Marchesi, the father of la nuova cucina Italiana, declared in June that he was “giving back” his remaining star.

Last week, to his evident astonishment, the authors of the guide took him at his word. Not only did they strip away the last star boasted by his restaurant at Erbusco, east of Milan, they struck his establishment out of the book altogether.

With the verbal equivalent of a Gallic shrug, a spokesperson for Michelin said: “When, as in this case, a restaurant does not wish to be judged or appear in the guides we take it out and it simply goes into the telephone book.”

An irate Marchesi said: “Faced with a case of lese-majesty, the Red Guide has responded with a beheading.” He added: “I regard it as an out-and-out attack on Italian cuisine and its symbols.”

Back in 1986, when his tiny downstairs restaurant in Milan was a powerhouse of gastronomic inventiveness, Marchesi became the first Italian to be honoured with three stars by Michelin. He is credited with restoring the risotto to a place of honour in his nation’s cuisine and, in his heyday, caused a sensation by serving up one that bore a square of pure gold foil.

The sprightly 78-year-old told the newspaper Corriere della Sera what outraged him most about the guide’s action: “We Italians are still so ingenuous as to entrust the success of our restaurants to a French guide that last year gave top marks to only five Italian restaurants, against 26 French ones.” —

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