MICHELIN Guide Ceremony 3 minutes 08 February 2024

The Michelin Special Award Winners 2024

Discover the winners of the Chef Mentor, Young Chef, Service, Sommelier and Exceptional Cocktails awards

At The MICHELIN Guide Ceremony Great Britain & Ireland 2024, which took place in Manchester on 5th February, five Michelin Special Awards were presented. These exist to highlight exceptional hospitality professionals, those individuals and teams who help make the restaurant industry so special. At the event, awards were presented for Chef Mentor, Young Chef, Service, Sommelier and Cocktails. Read on to discover this year’s winners, and why they impressed the Michelin Inspectors.

Chef Mentor Award: Michel Roux

A giant of the British restaurant industry, Michel Roux is a worthy recipient of this award. When his illustrious restaurant Le Gavroche closed last month, it shone a light on how many chefs passed through its kitchens before going on to great things. This was a testament not just to Le Gavroche’s place at the top table of gastronomy, but to Michel’s skilled way of working with – and developing the talents of – young chefs.

After Gwendal Poullenec, International Director of The MICHELIN Guide, paid tribute to Le Gavroche at the Ceremony, Michel came on stage where he was greeted by a rousing standing ovation from the crowd. He said that what gives him the most pleasure is “seeing young talent coming through and achieving their goals and chasing their dreams”. Rather fittingly, Michel then stayed on stage after collecting his Chef Mentor Award to present the award for Young Chef and to congratulate our new One Star restaurants.

To discover more about Le Gavroche and Michel Roux’s legacy, read our tribute to Le Gavroche.

Young Chef Award: Jake Jones, Forge

The MICHELIN Guide Ceremony 2024 was a special night for so many people, but few more so than Jake Jones. As the only person to walk away from the event with two separate awards, it’s no surprise that Jake described himself as feeling “over the moon” after the event. A recipient of both the Young Chef Award and a Michelin Green Star, Jake impressed the Michelin Inspectors by leading a team who craft interesting, original dishes with a sustainable ethos.

“I worked with Simon Rogan and he’s been a massive influence on my career,” says Jake, who has worked in many notable kitchens across the north of England despite his young age. Forge is a part of Middleton Lodge Estate and Jake relishes the challenge of cooking with seasonal ingredients from their large kitchen garden. Born in York and now working only an hour further north, Jake is proud to be representing the north east of England with his cooking. “We try to champion local produce as much as possible,” he explains. “If we don't grow it, we use local and we source from local farmers.” In both his accomplished cooking and his dedication to sustainable gastronomy, Jake is continuing to make a name for himself in the industry.

Service Award: Robbie Ashby, Stage

There were a few people taken aback by their victories at The MICHELIN Guide Ceremony, but perhaps nobody was more surprised than Robbie Ashby. When collecting the Michelin Service Award, Robbie said he was “totally shocked” to be receiving the accolade. Somewhat less surprised were the Michelin Inspectors, who received delightful service when visiting Robbie and his colleagues at Stage, in Exeter. From the moment they open the door, the team welcome each and every guest like a long-lost friend. Their ability to interact with all diners, whilst making it seem as if they’re always having great fun themselves, is a joy to experience.

Robbie and his friends started their journey with Taco Boys, a converted horse box on Polzeath Beach. Since then, the ‘boys’ have been on quite a journey, from opening a permanent restaurant in the form of Stage to winning a Michelin Special Award. Good service makes a huge difference to dining out, whatever the environment, and the team at Stage truly understand that. You’ll leave with a beaming smile on your face.

Sommelier Award: Valentin Mouillard, L'Enclume

“I’m very proud, because I’m just being me,” said a delighted Valentin Mouillard after he won the Michelin Sommelier Award. Being himself was more than enough for the Michelin Inspectors, who were impressed by Valentin’s welcoming character and wonderfully engaging manner. Guests are drawn to him as he explains his choices with care and pride. “If you have fun when you’re on the floor in the restaurant, then your guests will have fun,” he explains. “I just want to make sure that everyone is enjoying the experience.”

Coming from a winemaking family, Valentin has worked at L’Enclume for 7 years having long held the ambition of working at Simon Rogan’s Three Michelin Star restaurant. For him, getting involved in the family business was never the goal. “I’m someone who like to share,” he explains. “I like to see the reactions from the guests.” He shares his choices with great skill, too, never over-explaining or trying too hard to impress the diner – instead offering his thoughts on the wine clearly and succinctly. The wine list Valentin curates deftly mixes big names and lesser-known options from around the world, but he admits to having a soft spot for his home region of the Loire.

Exceptional Cocktails Award: Ryan McHarg, The Spence

“It’s ridiculous I’m allowed anywhere near this building,” joked Ryan McHarg after picking up the Exceptional Cocktails award at The MICHELIN Guide Ceremony. Ryan’s shock at his award perhaps reflects how overlooked bar staff sometimes are, despite the pivotal role a good cocktail plays in making your meal feel that extra bit more special. Housed within the beautifully ornate Gleneagles Townhouse Hotel in the very centre of Edinburgh, The Spence occupies what was once the main banking hall of the Bank of Scotland’s headquarters. In here, the bar takes centre stage and provides a fine setting for a cocktail.

Whether it’s an aperitif before dinner or you’re just popping in for a drink, you will be well looked-after by Ryan and his colleagues. This award, he says, is for all of them: “It’s a team effort, and I think this really reflects the graft that these guys are putting in.” Their cocktail list includes ‘Townhouse Classics’ – inspired by the six imposing statues that adorn the front of the hotel – but Ryan assures us the team are just as adept at making any classic cocktail you ask for. When it comes to deciding, they’re on hand to help with a smile. The whole Spence team are genial, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their bar.

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