French Chef Hands Back His Michelin Stars

Michelin-star cuisine | © Omid Tavallai / Flickr
Michelin-star cuisine | © Omid Tavallai / Flickr
Michelin stars are the hallmark of fine dining across the world and usually restaurants are only too proud to promote their status, if they have been recognised in this way. However, as one top chef in Paris renounces his Michelin stars for the first time in history, a darker truth is revealed.

Sébastien Bras owns Le Suquet restaurant in the rural Aveyron region, south-central France, whose reputation has boasted the coveted maximum three Michelin star rating for 18 years. This rating is currently held by an elite club of only 27 French restaurants, and would be considered a dream come true for most chefs.

However, feeling daunted at the prospect of intense scrutiny from the inspectors, the chef said he no longer wanted to cook under the “huge pressure” of being judged. This historic decision has shocked the gastronomic community across France, and marks the first time The Michelin Guide has ever allowed a restaurant to withdraw from its pages.

“It is difficult for us to have a restaurant in the guide which does not wish to be in it,” Claire Dorland Clauzel of Michelin told AFP news agency. “It is the first time we have had a public withdrawal of this sort,” she added. Le Suquet will not feature in the guide’s 2018 edition, Dorland Clauzel has confirmed.

The only other restaurants to have dropped out are when chefs retire or their principal manifesto has changed, and those are few and far between.

Chef cutting onions © MBrandt / WikiCommons

“You’re inspected two or three times a year, you never know when. Every meal that goes out could be inspected,” Sébastien Bras told AFP. “That means that every day, one of the 500 meals that leaves the kitchen could be judged. Maybe I will be less famous, but I accept that,” said the chef. He took over the now world-famous restaurant from his father a decade ago.

In 2005, the late Alain Senderens, a pioneer of nouvelle cuisine, shut down his three-star Art Nouveau Paris restaurant for similar reasons, preferring to create “beautiful cuisine without all the tra-la-la and chichi”.