Cunningham's award helped Denmark keep its lead over neighbouring Sweden and Norway in the gourmet guide, despite a year that saw three-star flagship Geranium criticised by local food safety inspectors, and the famed restaurant Noma, which won two stars every year from 2007 to 2016, temporarily closed.
“A huge surprise, a most wonderful experience, and the absolute highlight of my career in the kitchen,” Essex-born Paul Cunningham, wrote on Facebook. "Thank you for all of your beautiful messages, you make an old man very happy indeed."
Henne Kirkeby Kro is the first restaurant outside of Copenhagen ever to win a coveted two-star ranking from Michelin.
Cunningham picked up his award at a ceremony in Stockholm on Wednesday, where the Michelin guide Nordic Countries 2017 was launched.
“It's really great. We are pleased and happy,” Rasmus Kofoed, who kept his restaurant Geranium's three stars, told Fyens Stifstidende . “When you get a Michelin star, it's not like you get an eternal life membership in the guide. We are happy we got three stars again. It's a huge thing for both Geranium and Denmark.”
The other exciting new entrant for Denmark was the destination restaurant KOKS on the Faroe Islands, which Michael Ellis, International Director in charge of the Michelin guides praised for its "use of indigenous ingredients and traditional techniques like smoking and salting".
Rebecca Burr, editor of the MICHELIN guide Nordic Countries 2017 said Henne Kirkeby Kro had impressed with its “sublimely flavoured, classically based dishes which celebrate the surrounding farmland.”
While unknown in his home country, Cunningham has become something of a culinary celebrity in Denmark, publishing eight cooking books.
Overall Denmark now boasts 29 stars, compared to 21 for Sweden, seven for Norway, four for Finland and one for Iceland, where Rejkjavik restaurant Dill won the country's first star this year.