A GASTRONOMY bible has bestowed an Oxford restaurant with a Michelin star just months after a new chef took the helm.

The Michelin Guide 2019 has added The Oxford Kitchen in Summertown to its prestigious list of star-holders - thought to be the first time in decades an Oxford city restaurant has earned the accolade.

Its executive chef Paul Welburn, who took up post in January, joined the crème de la crème of the culinary world at the award ceremony in London on Monday night.

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He said: "We are still pinching ourselves, it was very unexpected.

"It's incredible. It's the pinnacle for chefs and restaurants. It was unbelievable - what a night, to be amongst that calibre of chefs."

It was the first time the restaurant has received a Michelin star, with food inspectors praising Mr Welburn as a chef who 'never fails to demonstrate his acute understanding of flavour'.

The Oxford Kitchen was among three Oxfordshire restaurants to gain Michelin stars this year.

Acclaimed gastropub The Nut Tree Inn in Murcott, near Bicester, retained its star for the 10th year.

Sharing her delight on Twitter, sous chef Mary Franklin said she was 'chuffed' and 'couldn't be prouder' of the village pub's success.

Raymond Blanc's Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Great Milton gained two Michelin stars, for the 34th year running.

The celebrity chef tweeted: "So proud of all my team, past and present, who have made Le Manoir the centre of excellence that it is.

"34 years of holding two Michelin stars - it is extraordinary. We are so delighted."

The Michelin Guide is published annually and awards up to three stars for excellence to the country's most impressive establishments.

It also lists winners for an award called Bib Gourmand, defined as those offering 'exceptionally good food at moderate prices'.

Three Oxfordshire eateries were awarded this: The Bell Inn in Langford, the Magdalen Arms pub and Oli's Thai, both of which are in Magdalen Road in East Oxford.

Mr Welburn was positive about the future of the city's food credentials.

He said: "So many restaurants around Oxford are phenomenal, so many have so much potential.

"It's all 'London, London, London' so this is about keeping the focus on Oxford and really pushing the Oxfordshire food scene."

It is not the first time the chef has picked up a Michelin star - Mr Welburn was also head chef at the Rhodes W1 restaurant in London, working under Gary Rhodes, which gained a Michelin star for five years running during his time there.

He said that experience was 'unbelievable', as was another career highlight in 2014, when he appeared on the BBC1 cooking show Great British Menu.

Mr Welburn said gaining the Oxford Kitchen's Michelin star had 'eclipsed all that', becoming his greatest achievement to date.

Describing the restaurant's food, he said: "It's classical cooking with a modern interpretation. It's not gimmicky - it's great ingredients, treated with respect."

He stressed that it was a group effort, however, adding: "I'm only one person - the owners, the team here front and back of house, have worked so hard this year and they were there [at the ceremony] in spirit.

"For us the customers are obviously most important -this is what we do day in, day out, and guides and accolades are an extra bonus."

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, whose own restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars, was among those who congratulated Mr Welburn after the ceremony.

Mr Welburn took over the kitchen from former executive chef John Footman, who helped to build the restaurant a stellar reputation in the city's fine-dining scene.

It is the second award for the Banbury Road restaurant in as many weeks, as it gained a third AA rosette last week.