Michelin in San Diego? Here’s who could get a star


Will Michelin’s stars be shining on San Diego?

Today’s news that Michelin will release a guide covering all of California this summer raises the prospect that San Diego may be recognized in the world’s most prestigious culinary rating system.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the California Michelin Guide will fold in its current rankings for the San Francisco area — currently the only part of the state reviewed by the France-based organization’s highly secretive anonymous inspectors.

L.A. had previously been graded by Michelin but was dropped because, as the Times quoted its then-director as saying, “the people in Los Angeles are not real foodies. … They are not too interested in eating well.”

A California-wide guide, coupled with The New York Times naming its first-ever Golden State-based food critic, is recognition of just how much the culinary conversation in this country has shifted from the primacy of East Coast French-technique-centric fine-dining establishments to the relevance of contemporary, ingredient-driven — but no less ambitious — West Coast eateries.

“Michelin recognizes California as a booming culinary destination which is setting the dining trends for the future,” international director Gwendal Poullennec told the L.A. Times. A statewide edition “will enable Michelin to extend its reach to new areas, and in doing so engage with a broader audience of foodies who love the high-quality, laid-back dining scene.”

The likelihood of San Diego being one of the “new areas” caused an optimistic stir in certain dining circles Tuesday. And while people were speculating privately, several prominent local chefs declined to be quoted for this story, with one saying it could be seen as “unseemly.”

Eater San Diego editor Candice Woo said she didn’t feel comfortable naming any potential Michelin star recipients.

“But the fact that San Diego will be evaluated on the same playing field as the world’s greatest restaurants and getting feedback from anonymous, food-focused reviews will be incredibly valuable to the continuing evolution and growth of our restaurant culture,” Woo said.

On any betting person’s Michelin-star short list would have to be Addison, the uncompromisingly impeccable luxury restaurant at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar led by chef William Bradley.

The Forbes 5-Star and AAA Five-Diamond-rated temple of high gastronomy has garnered national acclaim, in no small part because of Bradley’s association with America’s most decorated chef, Thomas Keller.

Keller’s French Laundry in Napa Valley’s Yountville and Per Se in New York both hold three Michelin stars, and his Bouchon, also in Yountville, has one.

Bradley is a protégé of Keller’s. He was handpicked by Keller for the “World’s Next Super Chef” Robb Report 2014 Culinary Masters Competition, and Keller said Bradley “represents the future of the profession.”

Last year, Keller cooked at Addison, the first time the super chef appeared in a San Diego kitchen.

But if the California Michelin Guide is indeed broadening its ratings sphere to include “high-quality, laid-back” restaurants, its conceivable that other San Diego dining destinations will earn the highly coveted recognition.

Possible contenders could be Market Restaurant + Bar in Del Mar; Born & Raised in Little Italy; George’s California Modern in La Jolla; and El Jardín in Liberty Station. El Jardín chef Claudette Wilkins-Zepeda, known for her elevated regional Mexican fare, is currently a semifinalist for a James Beard Award, Best Chef: West, the only San Diegan on the list.

Perhaps the wildest of all wild cards could be Jeune et Jolie, a brand-new jewel box of a restaurant in Carlsbad that’s turning out Addison-quality food. Its executive chef, Andrew Bachelier, worked with Bradley at Addison for five years.

Twitter: @sdeditgirl