BURGUNDY STARS: A Year in the Life of a Great French Restaurant by William Echikson

BURGUNDY STARS: A Year in the Life of a Great French Restaurant

Email this review


The vastly entertaining account of a Burgundian chef's rise to Guide Michelin three-stardom. Brilliant, volatile Bernard Loiseau came to the has-been restaurant La C"te d'Or in 1975 and proceeded to make it a force in the world of haute cuisine. Loiseau combined the restaurant's traditional principles with the lighter and fresher nouvelle cuisine style to create a flavor all his own. He quickly gained his first and second stars and then stalled for nearly ten years as Guide Michelin assessed his staying power and stability. Fortune correspondent Echikson (Lighting the Night, 1990) joins the chef in 1990, as Loiseau pushes in earnest for the final star, to explore the lengths to which an ambitious chef would go to gain the coveted seal of approval. Very far, Echikson soon determines. Not only was Loiseau willing to incur the heavy financial burden of a $3 million renovation, but he even married to prove to Michelin inspectors that he was a serious and stable family man. But if the stakes are high, the rewards for success are great: A three-star rating from Michelin can mean the success or failure of a restaurant -- especially one in the remote Burgundy town of Saulieu and where the average dinner bill is $200 per person. Echikson follows the chef and his staff through the crucial year, as they stock their wine cellar, remake the premises, and perfect their cheese tray (which had been criticized by American food critic Patricia Wells). The workings of a great restaurant's kitchen are demystified, the Michelin mystique explored. In 1991 Michelin grants the third star to Loiseau and with it comes a 75% increase in business, more renovations, and dreams of even greater heights. A delectable tale artfully told.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1995
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: "Little, Brown"