Chef Who Gave Back His Michelin Star 'Surprised' to Find His Restaurant Back on the List
Michelin Guides are supposed to be a celebration of the best restaurants in a given region, and with each new edition, discussion typically revolves around who’s been added or taken off, moved up or dropped down. But this year, possibly the biggest story coming out of the announcement of France’s 2019 Michelin Guide is the return of a restaurant that specifically asked not to be included.
Back in 2017, Sebastien Bras — chef at the formerly three-Michelin-starred Le Suquet — made huge waves in the industry when he asked to be omitted from France’s 2018 guide, dubbed a first for one of the biggest names in restaurant rating. The chef essentially stated he was sick of dealing with the pressure of constantly worrying about being inspected, and the Michelin Guide acquiesced to his demand… to not be included in the 2018 guide… specifically apparently. Because on Monday, Michelin unveiled the eateries included in the France 2019 guide, and Le Suquet was back — with only two stars this time around (possibly as a penalty for insubordination?!?)
Bras said he was “surprised” to see that Le Suquet was back in the guide, but in another way, he didn’t seem that surprised. “This contradictory decision has left us with doubts, even if in any case we no longer worry about either the stars or the strategies of the guide,” he told the AFP. “I made my position clear last year and I still feel the same still, and more than ever, enjoying the confidence of our clients.”
Of course, plenty of chefs want their stars, and this year’s guide comes with drama on that end as well. France has two new three-star restaurants, bringing the country’s total to 27 overall, as well as five new two-star restaurants (for a total of 85) and 68 new one-star restaurants (for a total of 520). That brings the grand total of starred restaurants in France to 632, billed by Michelin as “a record level.” But that’s not all: France also has 604 Bib Gourmand eateries, which includes 67 new additions to the category that tends to skew towards less expensive eats.
In a nod towards an increased desire for diversity, Michelin also touted how “there are 10 new restaurants with talented women at the head.” Young chefs also got a shout out with Michelin stating that many of the new one-star restaurants “are led by young chefs brimming with passion and talent, some of whom show real entrepreneurial courage.”
Finally, inevitably someone has to face disappointment, too, and this year’s most notable drop almost certainly belongs to Auberge de L’Ill, a restaurant in Alsace that slipped to two-stars after 51 years as a three-star recognized restaurant. “I don't know how to explain this loss,” Chef Marc Haeberlin said according to the BBC. He could try asking not to be listed anymore, but even that doesn’t always seem to work.