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News & Views 1 minute 28 November 2020

Guide MICHELIN 2020: three stars for Kei Kobayashi

Three stars are the reward for the dazzling career of Kei Kobayashi, as he becomes the first Japanese chef in the history of the Michelin Guide to achieve the ultimate award in France. Here is an aesthete burning with enthusiasm.

Michelin Guide Three Michelin Stars

"I’m a Japanese chef who cooks French cuisine", proclaims Kei Kobayashi, born in Nagano, and now established in rue du Coq Héron for almost 9 years. Le Coq Héron may seem familiar as it was once the legendary dining room of Gérard Besson, whose game, foie gras, meat sauces and pastries remain classics of "typically French" cuisine. But there is a change of tone with chef Kobayashi, trained at the prestigious school of Gilles Goujon (L’Auberge du Vieux Puits) and with Alain Ducasse (Plaza Athénée), where he devised his famous sea bass cooked on its scales.

His father was a cook in a traditional kaiseki restaurant (gastronomy served in small dishes in comparison to Western cuisine), but his vocation really stemmed from a documentary on French cuisine. A master of marrying flavours, relentlessly precise in the conception of his dishes, a Japanese influence emerges through delicate touches that magnify high-quality produce. It’s quite simple, every dish that Kei turns his rigorous attention to is called upon to become a signature one. Take his "gnocchi, truffe, aged parmesan and bellota ham". On paper, a traditional dish of Italian gastronomy. On the plate, two large, perfectly cooked gnocchi, served in a generous cream sauce subtly enhanced with Parmesan and thin strips of delicious bellota ham. All generously spinkled with Vaucluse truffle shavings. Simply unforgettable.

And, as the devil (and the third star!) is in the detail, he enchants from the opening amuse-bouche – a red shiso granita enhanced with balsamic vinegar, refreshing and ideal for invigorating the palate – to the final dessert: on this particular day, a smoothie of exotic fruits, a sweet soufflé and coconut emulsion, added to which is lemon zest and combawa, an impeccable end to the meal. The Japanese chef tinkers with French cuisine with a hint of yuzu and makes the case for healthy top-quality food, free from the shackles of guilt. It’s not French, it’s not Japanese, it’s Kei.

A dish that impressed the inspectors
Crunchy garden vegetables, Scottish smoked salmon, roquette mousse and lemon emulsion.

This iconic signature dish is a beautiful dish to look at and in which vegetables are in the spotlight. This chef’s speciality is composed of numerous small , crisp vegetables (cucumber, celery, radish etc., depending on the season), served almost plain, with a few pieces of perfectly smoked salmon, a delicious roquette mousse, a subtle lemon emulsion, tomato vinaigrette and an ultra creamy mayonnaise, all on top of multiple herb and salad leaves (basil, shiso, dill, endive, treviso, oak leaf). It is sprinkled with a black olive crumble which provides a pleasant touch of seasoning. Total elegance.

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