Acclaimed French chef Sébastien Bras – whose Aveyron restaurant Le Suquet held three Michelin stars – has become the first chef to hand back his accolades and have his restaurant wiped from Michelin’s pages. In the guide’s 118-year history this is the first time Michelin has acquiesced to such a request.
Bras spoke out in September last year about the extreme pressure of Michelin’s scrutiny and told Agence France-Presse that although the stars were a “source of great satisfaction” he wanted to “proceed with a free spirit and without stress”. He even said that like all chefs he sometimes found himself thinking of Bernard Loiseau, the acclaimed French chef who killed himself in 2003, an act widely seen as linked to rumours that he would lose his third Michelin star. “I’m not in the frame of mind,” Bras said.
He tweeted: “In accordance with my wishes, the Michelin guide has announced that it will remove Le Suquet from its 2018 selection. I open a new chapter of my professional life, always with so much passion for cooking.”
Although Bras is the first to have his restaurant immediately removed from the guide, others chefs have attempted to extricate themselves from the pressure or unwanted attention by closing their business or completely changing their offering. The one time enfant terrible of British cooking (turned stock cube spokesman) Marco Pierre White closed his eponymous Hyde Park venture in 1999, giving up three stars and simultaneously announcing his retirement from cooking.
German chef Matthias Dahlinger followed suit, handing back his star by completely changing the food offering at Eichhalde in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. In 2005 pioneer of nouvelle cuisine Alain Senderens shocked the culinary world by giving back his three stars, claiming diners were turned off by excessive luxury. He reopened Lucas Carton in Paris as Senderens with a new, simpler menu at a fraction of the price. Then Olivier Roellinger shut three star Maisons de Bricourt in Cancale, France, in 2008 hoping for ‘a quieter life’.