Tasting the exquisite seafood and vegetables at Alexandre Couillon’s restaurant ‘La Marine’ means travelling to the small island of Noirmoutier in the Bay of Biscay off the coast of western France.

“It is the perfect illustration of a meal that is worth the trip,” said Gwendal Poullennec, the head of the Michelin restaurant guide.

Along with his wife Celine, who handles front-of-house duties, the 47-year-old chef has created an experience that is “sincere and radiant”, he says.

La Marine has now become one of only 29 restaurants in France to hold Michelin’s top three-star ranking in the latest guide, which was unveiled in a ceremony in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

Last week, Michelin made the shock announcement that Guy Savoy, repeatedly named the best chef in the world by global review aggregator La Liste, had been downgraded to two stars at his Monnaie de Paris restaurant.

Like many of the most celebrated eateries of the moment, La Marine has a stripped-back vibe and menus that are guided by the seasons and local produce, much of it coming direct from the fishing boats of the port it overlooks.

Couillon took over the family restaurant in 1999. He received his first Michelin star in 2007 and was named chef of the year by a rival guide, Le Gault et Millau, in 2016.

This year’s edition of the Guide features 44 restaurants with new star ratings, four of them on their second star while 39 establishments received their first star. 37 of them are based in France’s regions, away from Paris.

Georgiana Viou, originally from Benin was one of the few solo female chefs to pick up a coveted star for her recipes at Rouge restaurant in Nîmes.

Mallory Gabsi, a former contestant in the television show “Top Chef”, gained a star and the Michelin Young Chef prize just one month after opening a restaurant in Paris at just 26 years of age.


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