Lonely Planet Writer

This French chef has handed back his Michelin stars; here's why

Receiving a sought-after Michelin star is the greatest accomplishment of many chefs’ careers – but one lauded French restauranteur has asked to no longer be included in the famous guide.

French chef Sebastien Bras prepares food in the kitchen of his three-star restaurant Le Suquet, in Laguiole, southern France. Image by REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images

Chef Sebastien Bras – who runs a three-star restaurant in Le Suquet in Laguiole, southern France – asked in September to not be included in the Michelin Guide from 2018 onwards. The new edition will be published Monday, 5 February and will not feature the restaurant as per his request. It is the first time in the guide’s history this has happened.

Bras posted a video last year on his restaurant’s official Facebook page, explaining that 10 years after taking over the restaurant founded by his father Michel in 1992, and having three Michelin stars since 1999, “I have decided, in accord with all of my family, to open up a new chapter in my career without the recognition of the Michelin guide but with an undimmed passion for cooking. I intend to continue, along with my faithful team, to breathe life into Le Suquet, this magical experience on Aubrac, always in pursuit of excellence.”

He explained that while the recognition in the Michelin guide has brought him a lot of satisfaction, it has also come with a lot of pressure. Now, he and his wife Veronique want to be “free spirits” who can offer the high-quality food they are known for, but without the pressure of living up to their Michelin stars.

But despite wanting to drop the stars, Bras says they are grateful for the guides and the impact it has had on their success. While often stars are lost due to changes made by a restaurant, Bras plans to change nothing but the rating. Bras still encouraged people to visit the Aubrac plateau region, which is known for its beautiful forests and pastures – and of course, the cows that take their name from it. However, this is not the first time that a chef has given up their star. Numerous chefs have turned their back on the accolade through the years, often citing similar pressures from customers looking for an exceptional experience.

This article was published 26 September 2017 and was updated 30 January 2018.