Michelin Guides' quiet American quits

Ellis has expanded the guides to 31 editions in 30 countries

The first non-French person to head the Michelin Guides said Monday that he is leaving the world's most prestigious restaurant guides.

American Michael Ellis said that he was joining the Dubai-based luxury hotel chain Jumeirah after seven years with the red guides.

The soft-spoken Ellis, who previously worked for the French tyre maker's motorcycle division, has expanded the guides to 31 editions in 30 countries.

But there has been controversy about Michelin's decision to allow governments to commission new guides, with new ones for Seoul, Macau, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore all reportedly paid for.

Ellis said he will leave in September when he will become head of gastronomy for Jumeirah, which has hotels in the Gulf, China and Europe.

"Long live the Michelin guide," Ellis declared as he announced his departure. "The inspectors are the beating heart... their passion and their expertise are without question and I was very honoured to be with them during these seven years."

Ellis, who was born in Colorado, made his first trip to France as a teenager and decided he wanted to become a chef.

He returned to work in Paris as a commis chef at a Michelin one-star restaurant before realising "that I was probably more cut out to be a client of a restaurant."