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sales of up to 30 percent. In the words of the legendary Paul Bocuse: “The Michelin is the only guide that matters.” This trust of chefs and guests alike has a great deal to do with the guide’s methodology, which is based on consistency and long-term perspective. By which M. places emphasis on the statement that the mere selection of a restaurant in the MICHELIN Guide already constitutes a recommendation. “We visit every single restaurant we mention and review it always according the same criteria: freshness and quality of product, skilled preparation, flavor, the chef’s personal touch, consistency over time and value for money.” Regardless of whether they are visiting a sushi-ya in Tokyo, a country inn in the Black Forest or a gourmet restaurant in New York, it never varies. F For dinner in L’Assiette Champenoise, M. has chosen the six-course “saveur” menu – but exchanged the crab in the first starter for fried langoustine royale. Why? “You very rarely get lobster of exceptional quality, and I’m in the mood for it.” The sommelier recommended an artisanal champagne accompaniment; M. wants to find out how his combination of food and wine succeeds. In addition, she finds that “any food unaccompanied by wine is a missed opportunity to get to know a new wine!” The cheese, however, is struck from the menu today. Now the lobster is on the table, a fabulously large, meaty creature. M. leans over it, concentrating, mentally records the image of the plate, discerns the scent of smoky toasted notes, the perfectly cooked glaze, the robustly caramelized underside. With her fork she takes a bit of the intense, creamy crustacean mousse with minute segments of sour lemon, then some meat on its own. She tastes the nutty, mineral sweetness, the delicate piquancy of the Espelette pepper, sips champagne, then she smiles. While no Michelin inspector will ever provide any information whatsoever on the results of the critique in progress, in this case the expression on M.’s face is easy to decipher. MM. knew early on that her path should lead into the elegant hotel industry and fine dining. After distinguishing herself at secondary school in northern Germany, she began an apprenticeship in hotel management in Hamburg’s grand Four Seasons Hotel, then switched to train as a chef as the only woman among thirty men, attended the Lausanne Hotel School in addition, worked as a restaurant manager for the Four Seasons hotel group in Hawaii and Provence, led event organization for a first-class business consulting firm in Dusseldorf – and finally, motivated by a friend, submitted an application to the Michelin Group in 2009. What followed was a test meal under the supervision of the editor-in-chief plus a six-month internship alongside experienced inspectors. “That’s how you’re gauged,” says M. B By now, she has already “found a star” multiple times. That’s what the inspectors call it when they first discover a hitherto unknown restaurant that is then visited by several colleagues and ultimately distinguished through a collective decision—which is what makes the MICHELIN Guide so reliable—by a star. M. lives a day-to-day life many dream about – and about which only very few have realistic notions. She leads a life in the field out of a suitcase, replete with a long-distance relationship and 150 nights per year spent in a hotel – rarely at the same one two nights in a row. For 250 annual test meals, she’s on the road for around 30,000 kilometers, unfortunately not always, like the past few days here in Champagne, in a Mercedes-AMG S 63 Coupé. Meanwhile it has become dark outside. The dessert is on the table – a dreamlike creation of sponge cake, caramelized nuts, a feathery nougat mousse, crispy Breton shortbread and a breath of silver coating, which M. will eat down to the last spoonful. “I can’t remember ever having left something Le Pavillon CG Chef: Christophe Gilot-Maurel The menu: Organic farm egg confit, peas à la Française Steamed cod fillet, ratatouille, saffron cream Floating island with strawberries and rhubarb www.le-pavillon-cg. com Le Pré Champenois Patron: Laurent Wantelet Marinated salmon with dill, potato blini, horseradish and cucumber cream Turbot, “La Ratte” potato puree, mangetout cream, crispy bacon Strawberry mousse with a heart of white chocolate on basil bisque www. leprechampenois .fr 24


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