Masterchef. The Great British Bakeoff. All these seek to identify the best.
But in an era when television is dominated by competitive cookery programmes all proclaiming success, the Michelin Star stands alone as the gold standard.
It is the accolade to which all great chefs aspire and the one they guard most jealously.
That’s because Michelin is so rigorous in its appraisal process and so skilled in discerning changing trends in public taste and expectation.
Earlier this year, this newspaper said that one Sussex chef above all others would get the star this autumn – and this month George Blogg proved himself worthy of the triumph.
Arriving at Gravetye Manor little more than a year ago as head chef, he has never compromised in his pursuit of serving the best dishes.
More than that, the simplicity of every plate is underpinned by the most complex planning and perfect execution.
The two acre oval Victorian kitchen garden at Gravetye is the foundation stone of the culinary story.
The abundance of produce that it delivers shapes every part of the menu.
Much of the food on the plate comes from these immaculately tended gardens. Other ingredients are foraged from the surrounding lands.
The team at Gravetye balance texture, taste, colour and tone both within an individual dish and across a range of courses in the pursuit of excellence.
It’s a passion that is mirrored by the sommelier who pares the wines to the food with equal extravagant vision.
Sounds too good to be true?
Not a bit of it. Gravetye has accumulated one award after another. The Michelin Star - which it has previously held under Michael Quinn MBE and subsequently Mark Raffan - is the ultimate mark of success.
When we visited this month, we sampled the tasting menu and the accompanying wines. George was away - gloriously on honeymoon - and his handpicked team were in charge.
A good chef produces the best dishes himself. A great one trains a team to do so even when he isn’t there.
One hesitates to say the meals were faultless. But they were faultless.
The herb crusted saddle of South Downs lamb with roasted garlic, haggis, wilted spinach, and mint jellies was as good as it gets. The Chateau Talbot 2008 was a paring indulgence that was just too good.
The Orkney scallops where delivered to the plate in prime condition. Neither rubbery nor dry, they were cooked within a second of precision.
The Hendricks gin and tonic sorbet with cucumber was tantalisingly refreshing.
While George’s raspberry crumble shuffle with raspberry and mint compote and clotted cream ice cream lovingly ensconced as it was served was the best possible ending to a memorable meal.
Gravetye overlooks no detail. From the fresh flowers on the tables to the creation of a vegetarian menu - where else will you find one of those in local hotels beyond restaurants specialising in such fare?
The building itself is historic and stunning. Mention it and most people will instantly think of its amazing gardens.
Its 35 acres were carefully created by William Robinson over 50 years and are considered amongst the most influential in English gardening history.
Now George has brought the garden into the dining room.
The entire estate, within and without, blooms with success.
The Restaurant Inspector
Set within 1000 acres of strolling Sussex parkland, Gravetye Manor is the quintessential English Country House with a history harking back to Elizabethan times.
Its 35 acres of gardens carefully cultivated by William Robinson over fifty years are considered amongst the most influential in English gardening history. Flora and fauna is the theme within Gravetye Manor’s 17 bedrooms and suites too as each are named after tree species found on the estate with nods to the florals throughout the décor teamed with rich fabrics, fine antiques and hand crafted beds. Gravetye Manor & Restaurant is a member of Relais & Chateaux and Pride of Britain Hotels.
For more information visit Gravetye or call 01342 810567.
Gravetye Manor, Vowels Lane, West Hoathly, Sussex RH19 4LJ
• Although the Restaurant Inspector was invited by the hotel to review the food, this article is entirely independent and the publication of the offer and any advertising is on the clear understanding that the review will not be influenced by any commercial considerations.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage
2) Like our Facebook page
3) Follow us on Twitter
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
Always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.