Michelin gives stars back to chef who didn't want them
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Michelin gives stars back to chef who didn't want them

Sebastien Bras just wanted to enjoy cooking for its own sake

Sebastien Bras.

Sebastien Bras.

A French chef who shocked the culinary world in 2017 by handing back his Michelin stars was stunned Monday to find himself back in the prestigious guide's new edition.

Sebastien Bras cited the "huge pressure" that came with Michelin recognition when he asked in September 2017 for his three-star restaurant Le Suquet in the rural Aveyron region to be left out of the 2018 guide. 

Michelin agreed, with the company's then brand manager Claire Dorland Clauzel telling AFP: "It is difficult for us to have a restaurant in the guide which does not wish to be in it."

Bras returned to his restaurant and spent the year rustling up inventive French cuisine without worrying whether or not it was meeting Michelin's exacting standards. Every day one of the 500 meals that leaves the kitchen could be judged.

But on Monday the 47-year-old said he was "surprised" to see the restaurant back in the 2019 guide, with two stars. 

"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 said in a statement sent to 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."

Bras took over the kitchen at Le Suquet from his father Michel a decade ago.

The elder Bras had held three Michelin stars since 1999, and his son said that knowing a single below-par dish could cost him his reputation had created unbearable pressure as a chef.

"You're inspected two or three times a year, you never know when. Every meal that goes out could be inspected," he told AFP in 2017.

"That means that every day one of the 500 meals that leaves the kitchen could be judged.

"Maybe I will be less famous, but I accept that," he said of dropping out of the Michelin guide.

Michelin unveiled its full guide for the best restaurants in France later Monday.

It has promised to celebrate more female chefs in 2019 in a bid to address the heavy gender imbalance in the top ranks of French cooking, as well as unearthing new young talent.

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