THE BOROUGH’S only Michelin star restaurant has retained its award for the 19th year in a row.
James Greatorex, head chef at Shinfield-based L’Ortolan, said keeping the star was an emotional moment for all of the staff.
“It has been an incredibly tough year,” he said. “Having taken over at the beginning of 2021 we have had to constantly change and adapt our approach due to the current pandemic.”
He said it was his first experience of keeping a Michelin star.
“I really cannot put into words how grateful and humbled I am,” he said. “It is the best birthday present I could have wished for.”
The 24-year-old added: “We are a very young team but we have a strong brigade of brilliant chefs whose dedication and passion have brought us this far.
“We are now more fired up than ever and cannot wait to open our doors again and continue to push the boundaries further.”
Owner Peter Newman said he was once again very proud to have retained the star.
“I am grateful for the way in which the team have all pulled together during a very difficult year,” he added.
Mr Greatorex worked at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck when he was 19. While there, he learnt modern techniques and three Michelin star standards.
He said: “Once I had learnt everything I could from there I felt it was time to start developing my own style and management skills.
“I came to L’Ortolan as a Junior Sous chef and worked my way around the kitchen quickly on all sections.”
Having developed his creativity, Mr Greatorex said he focuses on traditional French cuisine, lightly influenced by Asian flavours.
Last year, the restaurant launched a L’Ortolan At Home service in response to the pandemic.Residents can choose from a bronze, silver or gold hamper, which range from £70 to £120 and feeds two.
Next week, the restaurant is also offering a Valentine’s hamper, which includes a single red rose, tea lights and a sweet treat, on top of the multiple courses.