Michelin will allow top French chef to withdraw from the 2018 guide

The Staff Canteen

The Michelin Guide says it will allow top French chef Sebastien Bras to bow out of its listings. It is the first time it has ever allowed a restaurant to withdraw from its pages. 

He asked in September last year for the removal of his three Michelin stars due to the immense pressure of retaining the highly sort after accolade year after year.

Sebastien Bras and his father, Michel Bras
Sebastien Bras and his father, Michel Bras

Sebastien Bras, whose Le Suquet restaurant in the rural Aveyron region has held the maximum three-star rating for 18 years, told French news agency, AFP, in September that he could no longer put himself through the ordeal of knowing that one below-par dish could cost him his reputation.

"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.

"It is the first time we have had a public withdrawal of this sort," she added, saying other restaurants had dropped out when chefs retired or the concept had changed.

Le Suquet, at Laguiole in south central France, will not feature in the guide's 2018 edition, which will be published on Monday, Dorland Clauzel confirmed.

Why does the talented chef wish to be exempt from the 2018 edition of the Michelin Guide?

AFP reported that the talented chef wished to be exempt from the 2018 edition of the Michelin Guide so the 46-year-old could “start a new chapter” in his career.

Speaking to AFP the chef said: “You’re inspected two or three times a year, you never know when. Every meal that goes out could be inspected. That means that, every day, one of the 500 meals that leaves the kitchen could be judged.”

Although the chef understands this might make him “less famous” he continued to say at least he’ll be able to continue to “dazzle” his diners with his dishes without fear of losing a coveted Michelin star.

Sebastien also admitted that he often thought of fellow French chef Bernard Loiseau, who committed suicide in 2003 amid rumours that he would lose his third Michelin star.

However, Sebastien was quick to explain that he’s not in the same “frame of mind” as Bernard.

Speaking of his decision to be removed from the guide, Claire Dorland Clauzel, a member of the executive committee said: "We note and we respect it", but further explained that the request would not be automatic and would first need to be considered.

Although Sebastien is only one of 27 chefs in France to hold the top ranking in the Michelin Guide, he isn’t the first chef to walk away from the competitive world of fine dining. Paris restaurateur and Nouvelle Cuisine pioneer, Alain Senderens shocked the world in 2005 by giving back his stars claiming that diners were turned off by excessive luxury.

Three years later Olivier Roellinger closed his luxury eatery in the Breton fishing village of Cancale - which held also held three stars in the guide- in favour of living a quieter life.

In 1999 British chef and TV personality, Marco Pierre White tried handing back his three stars as he felt he was being judged by people with less knowledge than himself. At the time he was the youngest chef in the world to obtain three stars from the Michelin Guide at 33 years of age.

Users on our Facebook page shared their thoughts on learning the chef wished to be segregated from the guide. 

While others conveyed their distress at chefs continuously bending over backwards to obtain the top ranking.

Lukey Dukey said: "All Michelin star means to me is more work, and at the end of the day it's only a tyre companies guide I can't see why so many go crazy insane trying to get or keep the stars."

Jane Murphy expressed a similar concern comparing stars to that of oscars, "Imagine if Oscars were taken back if an actor's subsequent performances, for whatever reason, didn't achieve the same accolades, as previous performances. Perhaps the Michelin/ Hat awards system needs to be reappraised, in terms of the mental health issues of brilliant people who can so easily be devalued, on a whim."

By Michael Parker


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th January 2018

Michelin will allow top French chef to withdraw from the 2018 guide