Michelin lets top French chef pull out of food guide

Michelin lets top French chef pull out of food guide
PHOTO: AFP

PARIS - The Michelin guide allowed a top French restaurant to bow out of its listings on Tuesday (Jan 30) after its chef said he no longer wanted to cook under "huge pressure".

It is the first time it has ever allowed a restaurant to withdraw from its pages.

Sebastien Bras, whose Le Suquet restaurant has held the maximum three stars for 18 years, told 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," Ms Claire Dorland Clauzel of Michelin told AFP.

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

Bras, 46, caused a stir when he announced he was relinquishing the three stars currently held by an elite club of 27 French restaurants.

"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.

"Maybe I will be less famous but I accept that," said the chef who took over the famed restaurant from his father a decade ago.

He wanted to "start a new chapter" in its history "without wondering whether my creations will appeal to Michelin's inspectors".

Bras is not the first chef to walk away from fame.

In 2005, the late Alain Senderens - one of the pioneers of Nouvelle Cuisine - closed his three-star Paris restaurant, claiming he had enough of the agony of perfection and wanted to do "beautiful cuisine without all the tra-la-la and chichi".

Last year, Danish chef Rene Redzepi forfeited the two stars he won for his Noma restaurant when he closed it in order to move it to another part of Copenhagen, saying it was "necessary to break down a castle in order to build a new one".

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