Maaemo, the only gourmet restaurant in Oslo to boast two revered if controversial stars in the Michelin Guide, won another one on Wednesday. That makes Maaemo one of just two restaurants in the Nordic countries with three stars, while four other Norwegian restaurants claimed one each.
Renaa in Stavanger became the first Norwegian restaurant outside Oslo to win a Michelin star, following complaints last year that the Michelin reviewers concentrated far too much on Nordic capital cities without venturing into other areas of the countries with highly acclaimed chefs.
The fairly new restaurant Kontrast in Oslo also won a Michelin star, while the venerable Statholdergaarden in one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods kept the Michelin star it’s held for several years.
Two other restaurants in Oslo that won stars last year, Ylajali and Fauna, have since closed or are on the verge of doing so. Ylajali’s chef said he needed a break to ponder a new venture, while newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported earlier this month that Fauna’s chef Bjørn Svensson was frustrated by the constant pressure to perform and meet the ever-higher expectations of reviewers. Fauna, meanwhile, retained its star this year despite its plans to close.
Michelin stars have come to be viewed as both a blessing and a curse, with Norwegian chef Eyvind Hellstrøm among those reacting negatively to all the hype around them. “The media hypes up a restaurant with a Michelin star, and it can quickly become a burden,” Hellstrøm, who won several himself while running the now-closed Oslo restaurant Bagatelle, told state broadcaster NRK. “It’s even worse with two stars, and master chefs with three have all but taken their own lives. It’s not easy to carry out perfectionism every day.”
The only other restaurant in the Nordic countries with three Michelin stars is Geranium in Copenhagen. All told, 22 Danish restaurants won a total of 26 stars, while 24 Swedish restaurants won a total of 28 stars. Next came Norway with seven stars spread among four restaurants, while four restaurants in Finland won one star each.
Employees at Maaemo, located next to the railroad tracks in the city’s once-downtrodden Grønland district, were celebrating on Wednesday, with maitre d’ Benjamin Ausland telling NRK that “we work as hard as we can to become a little bit better every single day, and that yields results.”