'We don't rest on our laurels' - Norfolk restaurants keep Michelin stars
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It is an honour most restaurateurs can only ever dream of, but two Norfolk eateries are now celebrating having Michelin stars for a combined total of more than 30 years.
Morston Hall, near Blakeney, has won a coveted star for the 22nd year in a row, and The Neptune in Old Hunstanton has kept hold of its star, having first won the award in 2009.
Galton Blackiston from Morston Hall said he was thrilled with the honour.
Mr Blackiston, who runs the venue with his wife, Tracey, said there were a number of things a restaurant had to get right to retain a Michelin star for so long, but the key element was consistency.
He said: "We don't rest on our laurels. It's about trying to do the very best we can each time we step into Morston. We have a very good core staff, which is a massive asset, and a good mix of skill sets."
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Mr Blackiston said the restaurant's offering had evolved over the years and they now served a seven or eight-course menu rather than a four-course menu.
He said sourcing the best ingredients was crucial to their success.
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"I used to try and get everything from Norfolk, but with a bit of experience I've learned to get the best, even if you have to go a bit further afield," he said. "That may be from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Italy or Spain.
"We still play very much by the seasons and what is available seasonally."
Mr Blackiston said people's tastes had also changed over the decades, and Norfolk had a much more vibrant, diverse restaurant scene than when Morston Hall opened in 1992.
He said: "People are very interested in the provenance of the ingredients and they're much more eclectic in their tastes. Customers have become much more knowledgeable about food."
Kevin Mangeolles from The Neptune agreed that consistency was the most important way to retain a Michelin star.
Mr Mangeolles said: It doesn’t make any sense to be brilliant one day and rubbish the next, it’s about finding a good level and maintaining that all the time.
“You also have to decide what your restaurant wants to be.
"It doesn’t really work to have a bit of Italian and a bit of Thai and a bit of something else on the menu. If you want to do fusion that’s fine, but it does tend to vary a bit more in quality.
“You have to let your ingredients inspire you and then do the very best you can.”
Both Morston Hall and The Neptune remain closed while the national coronavirus lockdown continues.
Background: Michelin stars
The list of starred restaurants has been published for more than 100 years in Michelin’s famous Red Guide.
The tyre company originally developed its guidebook series to show French drivers where local amenities such as mechanics and places to eat were.
According to the guide, one star indicates ‘a very good restaurant’, two stars signify ‘excellent cooking that is worth a detour’, and three stars mean ‘exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey’.
The UK and Ireland have around 200 restaurants listed in the current guide with at least one star, but only seven with three stars.
These include Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Bray, west of London, and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea.
Suffolk has gained its first ever Michelin-starred restaurant in the latest edition of the guide - Pea Porridge in Bury St Edmunds. That restaurant was opened by Justin Sharp and wife Jurga 11 years ago and specialises in Mediterranean food.