Wednesday sees the release of Michelin’s Main Cities in Europe, a guidebook which rates Europe’s best restaurants. Last year Prague’s Allegro, located in the Four Seasons Hotel, became the first in a post communist country to clinch a coveted star. This year it retained its position, while numerous other restaurants were in the running. Another that clinched the prestigious star was Maze, in the Hotel Hilton, until recently run by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
Two Prague restaurants, two one-star ratings: that is how culinary venues in the Czech Republic fared in this year’s Michelin guide, a guide revered by some, dismissed by others. In general, Michelin stars are highly coveted and for good reason: approval can significantly increase a restaurant’s prestige and consequently its business. For that reason Allegro, headed by Italian chef Andrea Accordi, will be pleased to have repeated its success. As for Maze, until recently the restaurant (which is located in Prague’s Hotel Hilton) was run by none other than Gordon Ramsay, but the celebrity chef pulled out of day-to-day dealings last month, negotiating a split with Hilton representatives. As a consequence, that has left some questioning the star’s real “worth”. Pavel Maurer is a leading restaurant critic:
“I think that the Allegro Michelin star is OK but if we are talking about Maze – the Gordon Ramsay restaurant – I think it is a kind of French arrogance, as anyone who knows anything about the Czech culinary market knows that this restaurant practically hasn’t existed these last three months. From my point of view, there are a lot of restaurants here with comparable reputations. I am afraid that here what was key was Gordon Ramsay’s name; I don’t really think that the restaurant has had enough time to prove that they are really good. Maybe several months, but not over a longer period.”
Some sources reported that Mr Ramsay was surprised by developments but that the star chef, who has numerous business ventures around the world, will not be returning. The Hilton Hotel, meanwhile, said that the restaurant has not changed for now, but that it will announce a new concept and new head chef in the coming months. Whoever that person will be, they will have the formidable task of retaining Maze’s reputation next year. Speaking of reputations, what about those who missed out? One Prague restaurant, La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise, was widely seen as an easy favourite. Pavel Maurer makes clear that if it keeps up its current standards, it could easily be picked next time.
“One of the very important points of the evaluation is the local character of the restaurants and I think that on our market some venues have emerged that are worthy. Restaurants like Le Terroir and La Degustation Bourgeoise which support local products and eco-farming, as well as revitalising old Czech recipes. From this point of view, I think they could be awarded. They have helped gastronomy in the Czech Republic.”
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