Female chefs honoured

France's mighty Michelin food bible on Wednesday dished out acclaim and shame to the country's chefs, forking over its top three-star honour to five new cooks, including a woman.

22 Feb 2007

Anne-Sophie Pic, 37, who stems from a family of bespangled chefs, follows in the footsteps of only three other women to ever receive three Michelin stars: Eugenie Brazier and Marie Bourgeois in 1933, and Marguerite Bise in 1951.

She had until Wednesday been one of only two women to hold two stars, along with Helene Darroze.

A self-taught cook and late-comer to France's haute cuisine scene, Pic has headed up the Maison Pic in Valence for about a decade, revamping the menu and reorganising the staff.

With Wednesday's announcement, the Maison Pic won the three-star distinction for the third generation in a row: it went to Pic's grandfather in 1934 and to her father in 1973.

The acclaimed restaurant had lost its third star after Pic's father Jacques died in 1992.

In addition to Pic, four other French chefs were awarded three stars: Yannick Alleno of Le Meurice; Frederic Anton of Le Pre Catelan; Pascal Barbot of L'Astrance, all in Paris; and Jacques Lameloise of Chagny in Saone-et-Loire.

Like Pic, the three Parisians, aged 34 to 42, belong to a new generation of chefs, while Lameloise, 60, regained the third star he lost in 2005.

After downgrading La Tour d'Argent, France's oldest restaurant and one of the top landmarks in international gastronomy, last year, the hugely influential Michelin guide this year also took the axe to famous Parisian eatery Taillevent.

That restaurant, which just celebrated 60 years in business, 33 of them boasting three Michelin stars, was downgraded to two.

Le Cinq, Parisian hotel George V's restaurant, also saw its star-count shrink amid rumors that chef Philippe Legendre is on his way out, while other establishments lost all three of their stars due to "technical" reasons, including new ownership and bankruptcy.

In all, membership in Michelin's select three-star club remained stable at 26.

The guide, which is set to go on sale on February 26, counts 65 two-star establishments, including seven newcomers, and 436 one-star wonders, including 50 new arrivals to the list.

Image: FRANCE, Valence: French chef Anne-Sophie Pic poses 21 February at the Maison Pic family restaurant. Five chefs received a third Michelin star in the 2007 Guide.

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