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Business boost by Michelin wins

By Dong Fangyu | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-14 10:08
Michelin-starred chef Huang Jinghui. [Photo/China Daily]

It is no secret that receiving a Michelin star means a boost in business and stress levels as chefs inherently feel the pressure to maintain or improve their ratings.

Gordon Guo, the chef of Lai Heen, the Cantonese restaurant in The Ritz-Carlton Guangzhou which has received a coveted Michelin star, says that he is well-prepared to face the scrutiny that comes with the accolade.

Guo notes that the restaurant has already experienced a spike in the number of reservations since the unveiling of the guide last month. In light of this, the restaurant has been making adjustments to its work processes to deal with the increased traffic.

Lai Heen has also introduced a new Michelin set menu that comprises its signature dishes such as the poached sunflower chicken and braised shrimps with okra in homemade sauce. But preparations for the Michelin guide had started as early as last year when news broke that the French culinary bible would be arriving in Guangzhou.

Guo, who has over two decades of culinary experience, says that he traveled to various acclaimed dining establishments in Hong Kong, Macao, Shanghai and Singapore to learn how Lai Heen could stand out from the crowd.

"We made tremendous efforts to better the details at Lai Heen. The Michelin star is a recognition of our dedication to the cause. Receiving the star has boosted the morale of the whole team," he says.

When head chef Liang Jianyu of Jade River was informed that his restaurant had won a star, he felt "a tiny pang of regret"-many food experts had speculated that the refined dining establishment in the White Swan Hotel would have gotten at least two stars.

Liang, who has been with Jade River for 28 years, says the restaurant has always had a link to the famous Michelin guide as it has held many gourmet events over the years that featured Michelin-starred chefs from abroad.

"We now have our name on the Michelin guide. Our efforts through the years have finally paid off," he said.

Liang points out that the spotlight shone on the restaurant by the Michelin guide has resulted in more new customers appearing, many of them being travelers instead of locals.

He adds that the guide will have an impact on local tourism because having a meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant nowadays is now considered as important an experience as a nice holiday. In the wake of the one-star win, Liang says Jade River is making improvements in three areas: increasing the number of service staff, refining cutlery and tableware, and launching new dishes.

Jiang by Chef Fei at the Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou is another Michelin star awardee. The head chef Huang Jinghui, better known as Chef Fei, says that the restaurant has similarly experienced a sudden surge in the number of customers.

"Our restaurant was already brimming with customers every day even before the Michelin guide was released. Now we have to suggest that diners make reservations ahead of time," says Huang.

On what it means to be a Michelin-starred chef, he says: "It is an honor, and this would motivate me to do much better."

Huang regards consistency and quality to be the key to maintaining or improving the restaurant's Michelin rating.

But unless the costs associated with this quest for perfection is greatly increased, Huang insists that the restaurant will not be raising its prices.

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