French chef Sebastien Bras announced his request late last year, and Michelin has just acquiesced.
chef Sebastien Bras returning michelin star
Credit: AFP Contributor / Getty Images

Helming one of the rare restaurants to obtain three Michelin stars earns a chef a number of privileges: global celebrity, dramatically increased business, even the right to – uh – return your Michelin stars. In what Michelin is calling a first, French chef Sebastien Bras has been granted his wish to have his restaurant Le Suquet removed from France’s Michelin upcoming guide.

Bras, whose restaurant first gained its three-star status back in 1999, made the request back in September, citing the constant pressure and telling the AFP at the time, “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.” He lamented, “Maybe I will be less famous but I accept that,” adding that he’d like to be able to cook “without wondering whether my creations will appeal to Michelin’s inspectors.”

With the 2018 French guide set to be published next week, Claire Dorland Clauzel, a member of the Michelin’s executive committee, confirmed that Le Suquet would not be included. “It is difficult for us to have a restaurant in the guide which does not wish to be in it,” she stated. “It is the first time we have had a public withdrawal of this sort.”

Clauzel’s “of this sort” is an important qualifier, one that speaks to a continued discontent by a vocal minority against the guide. In the past, chefs like Andre Chiang and Marco Pierre White have chosen to close restaurants or retire from cooking to escape the entrapment of a Michelin reputation.

However, that’s not to say that this “first” for Le Suquet is inconsequential. Quite the opposite, actually: With a new precedent set, it creates quite the conundrum if future restaurants want to make a similar request. In theory, accepting Bras’s request could mark a fundamental shift in how the Michelin guide has to operate – because, in the end, what’s the point of a restaurant guide if some of the world’s best restaurants don’t want to be included?