IT must have been one of the hardest years in the food bible’s hundred-year history.

But somehow the Michelin guide – which launched in 1910 in Spain – has managed to wheedle out a few new stars for Spain for 2021.

A total of 22 new winners were selected for the guide this year, with a pair in Catalunya and  one in Galicia being the highlight.

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While no new three-star restaurants emerged, for the first time in five years, Cinc Sentits, in Barcelona, Bo.Tic, in Girona, and Culler de Pau, in O Grove, all grabbed a brace.

Meanwhile, the leading Andalucian restaurants maintained their star status, with Aponiente, in Cadiz keeping its three stars, while Noor, Skina and Bardal kept their two stars in Cordoba, Marbella and Ronda.

In total, only one restaurant in Spain lost a star (Albora, in Madrid), as the inspectors were told to be fair given the myriad of issues with COVID-19 this year.

Chef Benito Gomez, of Bardal, in Ronda, was extremely grateful for this, having been forced to close in March and not opening all year.

“It’s been a nightmare year, very tricky and so it’s great the inspectors have been lenient,” he told the Olive Press.

The winners, announced at the much delayed online ceremony at the Royal Casa de Correos in Madrid, included a record 19 new one-Michelin starred joints.

Meanwhile there were 53 new Bib Gourmands – or restaurants that have great quality to price ratios – with three new ones in Andalucia.

The region now has a massive 38 restaurants in this category, with 16 starred joints.

There were new stars in Alicante and in Murcia making up a total of 203 starred eateries.

A new category was introduced this year to celebrate sustainability.

Called the Estrella Verde, or Green star, it went to 21 restaurants around Spain, including one in Malaga, Sollo, in Fuengirola .

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