Eleven female-led restaurants have each been granted a prestigious spot in the 2019 Michelin guide to the best food in France

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An unprecedented number of restaurants run by female chefs won plaudits in the new French edition of the Michelin food guide released Monday, January 21 (Tuesday, January 22, Philippine time) as the guardians of haute cuisine sought to address a glaring gender imbalance.

Eleven female-led restaurants have been added to the 2019 guide to the best food in France, out of a record 75 new additions bestowed with one, two or three Michelin stars.

Among them was 24-year-old wunderkind Julia Sedefdjian, who won a star for her new restaurant Baieta, while Stephanie Le Quellec claimed her second for Parisian restaurant La Scene.

The 2018 French guide had been marked by a near absence of women: only two female chefs featured, both in partnership with male colleagues. A year earlier, only one woman was among the 70 new additions to the "starred" list.

The guide's new international director Gwendal Poullennec had promised to breathe new life into its pages this year, celebrating young talent as well as female chefs.

"It's a reflection of the great dynamism of French gastronomy, in all regions, with establishments set up by talented young people who are often entrepreneurs who have taken risks," Poullennec said.

Poullennec stressed in an interview with AFP last week that the Michelin reviewers were not working under any "quotas" or "lowering of the criteria", but had simply sought to select a more diverse range of restaurants this year, both in terms of the profile of the chefs and the style of the cooking.

A large number of international chefs are also honored – many of them Japanese – while Argentine Mauro Colagreco became the only foreigner to currently hold 3 stars in France.

"So many emotions. Thank you! I'm so honored," said the 42-year-old, whose Mirazur restaurant on the glitzy French Riviera ranked fourth last year on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list.