By Richard Leong
(Reuters) - Michelin said on Wednesday it awarded its coveted stars to 26 Chicago restaurants in the latest edition of its dining guide that will be launched on Dec. 7, up from 22 in last year's edition.
The latest guide cast a spotlight on a burgeoning food scene where local chefs showcase their interpretation of American cuisine.
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"Chicago is not a coastal city. You don't have the Asian influence like in San Francisco and the international influence in New York. You have a more American take on food," said Michael Ellis, international director of the Michelin Guide.Michelin's anonymous reviewers rate restaurants in 28 countries and its stars are seen as a sign of top-notch dining around the world. It rates restaurants in three other U.S. regions: New York, the San Francisco area and Washington.
Alinea and Grace retained their three-star status, Michelin's highest accolade, for their "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."
There are more than 100 restaurants in the world with the three-star distinction.
"Every restaurant have to earn their stars (each year). It's not a lifetime achievement," Ellis said.
Two Chicago restaurants, newcomer Oriole and veteran Tru, moved up to its two-star category for their “excellent cuisine, worth a detour,” joining Acadia, 42 Grams and Sixteen.
Michelin lauded Oriole, which opened in March, for "a consistently exciting blend of contemporary food that embraces familiar global flavor," under head chef Noah Sandoval.
Tru, which had been a one-star eatery since 2011, improved its menu with dishes that have "interesting flavor combinations and appealing visual presentations" overseen by executive chef Anthony Martin, Michelin said.
Michelin handed out one star to 19 restaurants in its 2017 guide on the third most populated U.S. city, praising them for being "very good" in their category.
Four new restaurants made their one-star debut in the guide: Band of Bohemia, GreenRiver, Roister and Smyth.
Seventeen Chicago restaurants earned one star in the previous guide.
(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)