Michelin madness: Derbyshire restaurants didn't win any Michelin Stars - and we think it's just plain daft

Lovage, in Bakewell, deserves a Michelin star for its accomplished cookingLovage, in Bakewell, deserves a Michelin star for its accomplished cooking
Lovage, in Bakewell, deserves a Michelin star for its accomplished cooking
Peer-led awards, where chefs nominate other eateries, should be on the menu

As excitement built in the run-up to Michelin’s announcement, social media was awash with celebratory messages from jubilant restaurants. 

At a time when the hospitality industry has precious little to be positive about (swathes of closures around the country down to a cocktail of factors including cost-of-living crisis and spiralling bills), it was nice to see the hard work of restaurateurs being acknowledged.

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Working in hospitality is a physically and mentally demanding business. Especially when it comes to emotions around awards. 

In the period after the Michelin awards ceremony, my heart is always with teams who didn’t retain their Michelin status, and those who were hopeful of getting their hands on a bright shiny star.

The entire list of every Michelin-star restaurant can be found here.

Neighbouring Nottingham did well. 

Alex Bond’s Alchemilla and Restaurant Sat Bains retained their respective one and two Michelin stars. 

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The last time Derbyshire flew the Michelin flag loud and proud, was between 1994 and 2019 when Fischers at Baslow Hall was awarded a star.

They kept the star for a quarter of a century, which is no mean feat, so a massive congratulations goes to them for their hard work.

Since losing the star six years’ ago, there has been a noticeable lack of Derbyshire presence in Michelin’s hallowed red guidebook.

Because Derbyshire missed out again this year. This is despite there being plenty of beautiful cooking going on at numerous Derbyshire restaurants.

Five Derbyshire restaurants that deserve a Michelin star

1. Lovage, Bakewell

2. The Duncombe Arms, Ashbourne

3. Stones, Matlock

4. The Lighthouse Restaurant, Ashbourne

5. The Red Lion, Ashbourne

Lovage gets a mention in the Michelin Guide but no star.

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Despite inspectors appreciating this Bakewell restaurant’s ‘modern menu of top quality, seasonal ingredients served by an informative team.’

We reviewed Lovage earlier this year and were so impressed with the team’s deep understanding of flavours and ‘MasterChef worthy dishes,’ we honestly thought they’d bag a Michelin star this year.

The Duncombe Arms in Ashbourne also gets a coveted Michelin mention but again, no star.

Inspectors appreciated ‘flavoursome appealing seasonal dishes that were keenly priced.’

Here are the five areas a Michelin inspector looks at

1. Quality of products

2. Mastery of flavour and cooking techniques

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3. The personality of the chef represented in the dining experience

4. Harmony of the flavours

5. Consistency between inspectors’ visits

Having done critiquing before (I was a critic on several panels including British Street Food Awards, Asian Curry Awards, Nottingham Food & Drink Awards and Italian Food Awards) I would say these criteria are fair but not enough.

Yes, it is all about the food in front of you, but there exists other key aspects that can make or break a restaurant visit.

There is no mention about other core principles that I would always factor in when deciding to visit a restaurant.

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What was the atmosphere like? How I feel when I enter a restaurant sets the scene for the evening. I visited one restaurant in mid-January, that kept its doors open for the entire service, where I froze, and I haven’t been back since. 

What is the front-of-house-like and wait staff’s attitude to diners? I very rarely return to an eatery if the staff are rude on the night, despite the food being noteworthy.

Are ingredients locally sourced, or if not, is the provenance known?

If a restaurant is championing sustainability how is that achieved, for example through farm-to-fork dining, or a carbon offsetting scheme?

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There is so much to consider when reviewing a restaurant, and I feel Michelin could look at the bigger picture. 

I have a lot of respect for Michelin and sometimes, I think it may be a nice change for a new type of award. 

Where chefs nominate other restaurateurs and the public - not inspectors - get to vote.

The idea came about as I started writing a Chefs’ Recommendation Series, where a local chef recommends his top three eateries.

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The outpouring of love and support, in an industry that can often be described as being on its knees, was heartwarming and a thing to behold.

The first Michelin guide, which was a complimentary, little red book, is said to have been produced in 1900.

Michelin may be a 100 year old organisation, and yes, respecting our elders is always a good move.

They have the experience after all, and have built up a stellar reputation during that time.

I do think there is space, where an alternative awards system can exist in harmony with the likes of AA and Michelin.

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