Why Do Michelin Chefs Reject Their Stars?

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Everyone knows that when it comes to Michelin-starred food, no dish is short of the finest dining standards. Internationally sourced ingredients, impeccable plating, and unique flavour combinations are just a few of the elements that go into a Michelin-rated dish – for you as a chef and for Michelin inspectors.

It’s no secret that Michelin dining is a notorious juggling act of achievable profit margins, controlling extortionate overhead costs, impressing diners with luxury décor and fine tuning recipes. Even in the smallest restaurants, producing a Michelin worthy dish can take focus away from your natural enjoyment of cooking.

Is it Worth the Stress?

With hundreds of covers leaving the kitchen every day, and only one to be assessed by a mystery Michelin inspector, is your energy and time worth star-studded stress?

Experienced French Chef Sébastien Bras of Le Suquet, doesn’t seem to think so. This year he announced that he would like to be stripped of his three stars, saying he wanted to redefine what is essential.

And he’s not the only one. In Scotland, owners of the Boath House announced earlier this year they want to re-evaluate their relationship with the Michelin guide and take Boath House in a new direction.

The Boath House owner, Mrs Matheson commented that since they had gained their star, their restaurant has consistently made a loss and the expectations from Michelin are at odds with achievable profit margins.

So is it the case that maintaining Michelin status is too stressful and at times not even profitable?

Unrealistic Expectations vs. Achievable Profit Margin

Naturally, when dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant you assume the quality of the food to be fine dining. Although, according to Nisbets’ Pulse Survey, this is contrary to what food trends catering professionals are seeing in 2017.

Flemish Chef Karen Keyngaert argues that

“until ten years ago, a Michelin star was a blessing, but in these economic times it is more of a curse. […] People now go for dinner in another way: casual, quick, just for fun or a quick bite.”

And in a 2017 survey by Great British Chefs it was found, “31% of Brits claim to have eaten in a restaurant with a Michelin star but only 13% have eaten in one in the last 12 months.” Fitting responses as global eating trends begin to lean away from fine dining food.

It’s not always the case that a Michelin star means a fine dining menu of course, but there’s a clear shift towards more casual and communal dining, especially here in the UK.

Reconciling Fine Dining & Casual, Relaxed Dining

Clare Smyth, the first female chef to hold three Michelin stars in the UK has taken steps to try to reconcile the shift towards casual dining as a food trend with fine dining cuisine. In her recently opened restaurant, she has kept the impeccable standards of food, but said goodbye to the atmosphere of a fine dining restaurant.

Clare says: “I’m not saying that all top notch restaurants should be like this but, at the moment, this is the sort of place I want to have. A venue that maintains the same high quality and standards as the Gordon Ramsey [sic], in terms of cuisine and service, but in a different manner: it's not about what you eat, it's about how you eat.”

Gone are the tablecloths and silver service. In comes the pop music playing over the speakers. To Smyth, fine dining shouldn’t mean your customers are worried about feeling comfortable or what to wear, instead the focus is on making sure her customers are having fun, enjoying their food and not feeling intimidated.

So there’s certainly still a market for fine dining cuisine but perhaps it is the service itself that is the most important aspect that needs to change to create a more relaxed environment for diners? Is it the case that Michelin are the ones that need to catch up?

What do you think, are Michelin stars beneficial for customers or a tedious accolade for Chefs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

By Kay Oliver

"To say catering clothing and hospitality furniture are fascinations of mine would be an understatement at best. I have always admired the creativity and tenacity required of chefs. There’s plenty to inspire beyond their dishes though. The imagination that goes into hospitality interiors is astounding and should be appreciated!"

Read More:

What is Premiumised Informality?

Nisbets Helps French Chef to Control His Temper!

Nisbets, Michelin Stars and the Pony Trap


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