France's gastronomy bible, the Michelin Guide, has awarded its coveted three-star rating to 35-year-old chef Arnaud Donckele for his cuisine celebrating the Mediterranean and sunny Provence.
Donckele, based in the former fishing village of Saint-Tropez, which was transformed into a jet-set haven by stars such as French actress Brigitte Bardot, becomes the 27th chef in France to reach the holy grail of gastronomy.
His restaurant La Vague D'Or is the only new top ranking to be included in the French listings.
The restaurant-reviewing institution says Donckele, who joined the restaurant in the tiny hotel La Residence de la Pinede in 2005, offers a "remarkable cuisine that is worth the voyage" to the Riviera spot.
He trained under Michel Guerard, also a three-star chef, who is celebrated as one of the founders of nouvelle cuisine and then under the legendary Alain Ducasse, who owns a chain of celebrated restaurants and became the first chef to own restaurants carrying three Michelin stars in three cities.
Michael Ellis, the international director of Michelin Guide, says that Donckele's speciality was his mastery of local products.
"Arnaud Donckele's cuisine provides diners with a unique, unforgettable experience," Ellis said in a statement.
"His fish dishes are highly original and he has personally sought out local producers to find the highest quality ingredients. Overall, he meets all the criteria for a third star."
"Cuisine must recount the history of the region," Donckele told a news conference
"We are nothing compared to the fishermen and cattle breeders," he said.
The guide also includes five new restaurants: Yoann Conte in Veyrier-du-Lac and La Table du Kilimandjaro in Courchevel, both in the Savoy Alps; William Frachot in Dijon, La Marine in the Vendee, and Auberge du Pont d'Acign in Brittany.