Peninsula eateries among the Bay Area’s numerous honorees

The bar at the now-starred Protégé on California Avenue in Palo Alto . (Photo by Natalia Nazarova)

Just nine months after opening in Palo Alto, Protégé has won a Michelin star, joining the ranks of Peninsula winners including Manresa, Baumé, Chez TJ, The Village Pub and Madera.

The Michelin Guide announced its much-anticipated stars for 2019 on Thursday.

Protégé arrived on California Avenue this March with high hopes and expectations to match, with co-owners who hailed from three-star The French Laundry in Yountville. Dennis Kelly was the restaurant’s sommelier and Anthony Secviar, a chef. They created what they hoped would be an approachable yet impressive neighborhood restaurant with a more casual a-la-carte lounge and tasting-menu dining room.

Anthony Secviar, chef and co-owner of Protégé. (Photo by Natalia Nazarova)

“We are floored,” Secviar wrote in an email shortly after the stars were announced. “Having grown up admiring Michelin-starred chefs and working in a number of starred establishments you’d think that from an egotistical perspective I would crave the recognition, but after opening Protégé I can honestly say I’m more happy for the team and the recognition they get from all of their efforts.”

In an announcement, Michelin wrote that Protégé “displays a level of finesse to prepare consistently excellent meals, while the dining experience remains casual and approachable.”

The much sought-after award “goes a long way in validating our efforts and reaffirms our belief that we are on the right track,” Secviar said.

Clockwise from top left: Protégé’s cocktails; the lounge area; the massive wine cellar; and a soft-poached hen egg with porcini, braised bacon, Parmesan foudue and freshly grated black truffle. (Photo by Natalia Nazarova)

Protégé is one of five new one-star distinctions in the 2019 Michelin guide and the only one south of San Francisco.

The Michelin guide defines one star as “high quality cooking, worth a stop;” two stars as “excellent cooking, worth a detour;” and three stars as “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” The stars are based on five criteria, according to Michelin: quality of ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in the cuisine, value for money and consistency between visits.

Other Peninsula restaurants who have won in past years held onto their stars in the 2019 guide, including Protégé’s across-the-street neighbor Baumé, which again won two stars.

Clockwise from top: Madera’s kampachi, kumquat, cherry bomb radish, yuzu, avocado and buttermilk; Chez TJ chef Jarad Gallagher; the dining room at The Village Pub in Woodside. (Photos by Michelle Le and Natalia Nazarova)

Manresa in Los Gatos again earned three stars and Chez TJ, The Village Pub and Madera, single stars. Other South Bay winners include Wakuriya and Sushi Yoshizumi in San Mateo, Rasa in Burlingame and The Plumed Horse in Saratoga (all won one star).

The Bay Area is now home to eight three-Michelin-starred restaurants, the most in the United States. Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, described the San Francisco dining scene as “booming at the moment.”

View the full list of winners here.

More local eats from The Six Fifty:

The 650’s 3-minute guide to the Peninsula’s best ramen

Star-powered pastries, bread and booze: Manresa brings all-day cafe to the Peninsula

Plant-based Peninsula: the Six Fifty’s guide to vegan & vegetarian eats around Silicon Valley

Can It’s-It Ice Cream rep the Bay Area for another 90 years? Their owner isn’t worried.

Elena Kadvany

A writer with a passion for investigative reporting, telling untold stories and public-service journalism, I have built my career covering education and restaurants in the Bay Area. My blog and biweekly newsletter, Peninsula Foodist, is the go-to source for restaurant news in Silicon Valley. My work has been published in The Guardian, Eater, Bon Appetit’s Healthyish, SF Weekly and The Six Fifty.

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