Gwent-based restaurants had a great showing in the new 2008 Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland with one starred restaurant and two Bib Gourmand winners among the area's entries.

Monmouthshire-based The Crown at Whitebrook was awarded a star for the second year running.

James Sommerin, aged 29, executive chef at The Crown, has also been named one of the UK's rising stars of the culinary world.

The highly-regarded and influential Observer Food Monthly magazine ranked him among the top five young chefs in the UK to keep an eye on in 2008.

James, a father-of-two, started as a commis chef at the Cwrt Bleddyn, near Caerleon, before moving to work at Farleyer House Hotel, Perthshire, where he worked under the tutelage of head chef Richard Lyth.

James said: "Richard taught me everything, cooking methods, butchery the lot."

He also cites his grandmother in Wales as an influence and also his time earning pocket money by preparing vegetables in an Italian restaurant.

James joined the Crown at Whitebrook in 2000 as sous chef before being promoted to executive chef in 2003.

The chef, who describes his food as having a French influence, won his first Michelin star in 2007 - an achievement he describes as mind-blowing'.

James says he is determined to remain in Wales and his stated ambition is to secure a second star - "I want to be the first Michelin two-star in Wales."

The Crown, which was also picked as number two of the Daily Telegraph's top 10 restaurants with rooms, was one of just two Welsh restaurants to be awarded a star in the 2008 guide. The other was the Plas Bodegras, Pwllheli, Gwynedd.

Bib Gourmand winners from the area were The Chandlery, in Lower Dock Street, Newport, and the Hardwick, near Abergavenny.

A Bib Gourmand is awarded for good cooking at moderate prices.

Other entries from the area in the guide, which lists 4,500 hotels and restaurants, include Llansantffraed Court, near Raglan; The Angel, Abergavenny; The Foxhunter, Nantyderry; Llanwenarth Hotel, near Abergavenny; Coalpits Farm, Shirenewton; the Stonemill, at Rockfield, near Monmouth; the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport; The Newbridge, at Tredunnock, near Usk, which has is being backed by TV and radio personality Chris Evans; The Inn at the Elm Tree, near Newport; Brick House, at Redwick; The Clytha Arms, Raglan; The Bell at Skenfrith; Parva Farmhouse, Tintern; the Glen-yr-Afon House, Usk; and the Raglan Arms, Llandenny.