View of the 2018 edition of the red Michelin guide book (Shutterstock/EQRoy)
A Cantonese restaurant gained the top honor of three stars in the newly released Michelin guide for Taipei on Wednesday, retaining the status it first received last year in the competitive fine dining scene.
Le Palais is the only restaurant that earned the three-star rating in the second edition of The Michelin Guide in Taipei, which awarded a total of 24 restaurants in Taipei with stars this year.
One star refers to a very good restaurant. Two stars refer to excellent cooking worth a detour, while three stars refer to exceptional cuisine worth a special journey.
Five restaurants gained two stars, including two Japanese restaurants, two offering innovative cuisine and one Chinese.
Eighteen other restaurants were awarded one star, including four Taiwanese restaurants, three sushi restaurants, three Chinese restaurants, two innovative restaurants and one Japanese restaurant, while the rest are steakhouse, barbeque joint and contemporary European and Asian restaurants.
Praising Taiwanese cuisine as "unique" and "dynamic," Gwendal Poullennec, international director of The Michelin Guides, said uniqueness of the local cuisine is due in part to the abundance of ingredients in Taiwan.
"With Japanese, Chinese and local influences, Taiwanese cuisine has its own unique identity with a wealth of traditions, which in a lot of cases have been inherited and passed down from generation to generation," Poullennec said.
In addition, chefs play a key role in the uniqueness of the local cuisine. Some of them have traveled far and wide to bring home "innovative ideas, passion and new skills into Taiwanese kitchens and contribute to the great evolution of Taiwanese cuisine," he said.
"It is only the beginning," he said, adding that Taiwan has "terrific potential and many opportunities for the emergence of energetic, passionate and talented chefs."
Chef Ken Chan of Le Palais said while he felt "totally surprised" when he and his team received the highest accolade last year, he felt "lucky" to retain the three-star rating this year.
Attributing the top honor to the joint effort of his team of some 30, Chan admitted that concerns about being downgraded to a lower star or even losing Michelin recognition have created huge pressure on them.
Chan said he did not know why his restaurant retained its top ranking this year, but one certain thing is that he is committed to keeping alive the fading heritage of traditional Cantonese food.
Coming from a humble background, Chan, 55, said he began cooking for his family when he was little and working at restaurants when he was 12 years old.
Chan emigrated from Hong Kong when he was 21 years old and became a master chef about two years later. Chan joined Le Palais in 2010 and the odds for him to leave or open a restaurant of his own are slim, he said.
If there is advice he could share with young chefs out there, it is that they must have passion for the profession, which he said requires long hours, team work and ability to work under pressure.