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This London Restaurant Just Lost All Three of Its Michelin Stars

Michelin had some surprises when it unveiled its new UK and Ireland guide.

sushi chef cutting tuna Photo: courtesy Regina Zhang/Instagram

With considerably more pomp than afforded to its recent DC and Chicago reveals, the Michelin Guide held a live ceremony today to announce the 2020 edition for the U.K. and Ireland. Instead of just dropping a press release like the tire-maker-turned-gastronome-guide did for the American cities, it slowly unveiled the new star recipients like an awards show. Sure, the winners were paraded across the stage, but what event’s host didn’t mention was the restaurant that lost big.

The Araki, only two years after becoming the first Japanese restaurant in London to hold three Michelin stars, lost not one, but all three of its stars in one fell swoop.

If the Araki had been knocked down to two, that wouldn’t have come as a big surprise, after its founding chef and sushi master Mitsuhiro Araki moved back to Japan. Though Michelin says it judges a restaurant on the food alone, and not the chef, when a three-star restaurant’s leader steps aside, the guide will usually demote the restaurant back down to two. That was the case when Matthew Kirkley left Coi and when Joshua Skenes handed Saison over to Laurent Gras. However, it’s quite shocking to see Michelin remove all three stars in one year and so far, it has not revealed why it took such a drastic step.

The Araki demotion was part of larger shake-up in this year’s UK and Ireland guide. Sketch at the Lecture Room in London became the newest three-star holder in the world. This gives French chef Pierre Gagnaire his second restaurant with three stars, joining his eponymous Parisian flagship. Sketch’s ascent keeps the total number of UK restaurants with three stars at five—the other four being Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Gordon Ramsay, Fat Duck and Waterside Inn.

Another French import, Anne-Sophie Pic—the lone Female chef in France with a three-star restaurant—earned her second star for the London outpost of La Dame de Pic. Three more restaurants were elevated to two stars: Greenhouse in Dublin, The Dining Room at Whatley Manor in Malmesbury, England and Aimsir in Celbridge, Ireland.

For Aimsir, this is a smashing debut, making to two stars after only being open since May. Led by the former head chef of three-star Maemo in Norway, Jordan Bailey is focused on cooking with ingredients native to Ireland.

Clare Smyth’s Core debuted on the list last year with two stars, leaving many thinking she’d graduate to three this year, but she’ll have to wait longer to see if she can become the UK’s first female chef to earn Michelin’s highest honor.

In total, 23 restaurants now enjoy two-star status. And there are 159 one-star restaurants throughout Great Britain, with 23 restaurants earning a star for the first time. That list includes Mana, a New Nordic restaurant led by former Noma chef Simon Martin. It earned the first Michelin star for the city of Manchester in more than 40 years. Although the northwest industrial city has long touted two of the world’s best soccer clubs—Manchester United and Manchester City—Michelin has largely regarded the place as a culinary also-ran.

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