Why Michelin Chefs Are Handing Back Their Stars

Posted: Jan 14, 2020

CNN — Being awarded a Michelin star was once the ultimate culinary accolade -- a reward for the punishing hours and dedication to detail that helped usher chefs into the upper echelons of their industry and bring big-spending diners into their restaurants.

But for some in the culinary world, those stars have begun to seem more of a burden than a blessing. In the past few years, several chefs have handed back their Michelin status, closed the doors on their upscale eateries and begun a new foodie life away from the confines of haute cuisine.

The stars have begun to lose their luster.
In 2017 French chef Sébastien Bras requested to be left out of the next edition of the Michelin Guide blaming the unrelenting pressure on maintaining a fine dining kitchen -- an issue that's increasingly becoming a concern in the wider restaurant industry.

More recently, in December 2019, Swedish cook Magnus Nilsson shuttered his two-Michelin-starred eatery Fäviken, citing tiredness and plans to dedicate more time to family.

There have been cases of chefs suing Michelin when they lose a star, and chefs suing Michelin when they gain one, of restauranteurs closing shop on old ventures and opening intentionally low-key locales, instead of lofty fine-dining hotspots.

And among chef graduates, there's a thirst for new gourmand adventures -- in 2020, supper clubs and street food trucks are as favored as the hallowed halls of established restaurants.

Star surrender
Michelin, in case you'd forgotten, is actually a tire company. The Michelin Guide launched at the beginning of the 20th century as a directory for French motorists, detailing hotels, petrol stations and other stopoff points. Stars were awarded to fine dining restaurants from 1926 onwards.

By Francesca Street, CNN
January 14, 2020
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