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French Chef Gives Up Michelin Stars So He Can Cook Freely Again. Too Much Pressure!

Here’s proof that there is such a thing as too much success! In the culinary world, Michelin’s guide of excellent establishments is the de facto standard of quality review and a trusted source of very detailed information. They award points or stars to restaurants they review and include in their guides. Every year, their inspectors roam the featured restaurants, judging them mercilessly.

The best grade you can get is three Michelin stars and one of France’s most celebrated chefs says that they inspect restaurant two to three times a year, never knowing when it’s going to happen. And that means pressure, which he doesn’t need in his life anymore – He asked for his restaurant to be stripped of the stars so he can finally relax without being judged!

Sébastien Bras is 46, and his restaurant has been honoured with three stars in the Michelin guide for almost 20 years, since 1999. The huge pressure of being judged on every dish he serves was too much this year, which is why he announced on Wednesday that he wants out of the guide.

This is a first for Michelin as well, since no one ever asked to be dropped from its restaurant guide in this way, without a major change of positioning or business model. Bras says he just wants to cook good food without pressure, and his restaurant is so successful already – he doesn’t need any more recommendations, really.

10 ans après avoir repris seul les rênes de l’établissement fondé par mon père, Michel Bras, en 1992, et honoré par une 3ème étoile depuis 1999, j’ai décidé, en accord avec toute ma famille, d’ouvrir un nouveau chapitre de ma vie professionnelle sans la récompense du guide Michelin, mais avec autant de passion pour la cuisine. J’entends bien continuer, avec mon équipe fidèle, à faire vivre au Suquet cette expérience magique de l’Aubrac, toujours avec cette quête de l’excellence.

Geplaatst door BRAS officiel op dinsdag 19 september 2017

Le Suquet had been consistently described by the Michelin guide’s restaurant judges as so good it was “spellbinding”. Bras took over the family restaurant from his parents 10 years ago.

Bras, dressed in his chef’s whites, announced his decision in a Facebook video with the local landscape rolling out behind him, saying: “Today, at 46 years old, I want to give a new meaning to my life … and redefine what is essential.”

The culinary world is extremely competitive, and it’s not getting any easier as time goes by. One good example of things going badly because of the pressure to succeed is the one of Bernard Loiseau, a brilliant chef who was so worried he’d lose his third star, he ended up committing suicide. And it’s not that his life outside of cooking was empty, as he was survived by a wife and three children.

Bras said his job had given him a lot of satisfaction but there was also huge pressure that was inevitably linked to the three Michelin stars first given to the restaurant in 1999. There were other chefs who did something similar, but their “retreat” was followed by radical changes in their restaurants. Bras wants to continue on the same road, though.

“Maybe I will be less famous but I accept that,” he said, adding that he would continue to cook excellent local produce “without wondering whether my creations will appeal to Michelin’s inspectors”.

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