In September 2017, Sébastien Brassurprised everyone by making the decision to return his three stars from the Suquet restaurant back to the Michelin Guide. (Read more here)
"We want to have the free spirit to continue serenely, without tension, to give meaning to our restaurant with a kitchen, a welcome, a service, as the expression of our state of mind of our territory. It's for this reason that I asked the Michelin Guide not to appear, from now on, in their selection and that as from 2018, we no longer be honored by the distinction of stars ", declared the chef in a video posted on Facebook.
A little more than a year after his withdrawal and a few days before the launch of the 2019 edition of the French Michelin Guide, Sebastien Bras weighed up how life had changed without the famous red book. In an interview with FDL he spoke about the reasons for giving up the stars and how the decision changed his kitchen.
Bras was excited and happy to be out of the guide. "After twenty years under the banner of three stars I wanted to find serenity, freedom and independence. It was a mature and very thoughtful choice. I didn't get up one morning saying that I was fed up. I am very grateful for what the guide brought to Suquet. But these three stars represented a form of permanent and growing tension. I wanted to rediscover the real reasons that made me choose this job: the sense of sharing, the love of cooking and a territory."
He continued, "I understand that this decision may have surprised because of thousands of chefs dream of this Holy Grail. I myself have been in this position for a very long time. But after twenty years of good and loyal service, I wanted to get out of the system and find myself. Today, I only want to be accountable to my customers."
Bras was happier in the kitchen away from the spotlight of stars, he said it allowed him to ask less "questions about creation" to focus on promoting "local products and terroir" and to "not necessarily put caviar, langoustine or lobster à la carte." He even told us that he would follow the 2019 release of the Michelin guide in France, "with a lot of detachment but of course," he added, admitting he would be watching to see if his friends were rewarded. What he never expected was Michelin would forget his request entirely and put him back in the guide - that's right, for 2019, the French publication have awarded Suquet two stars, something that shocked the culinary world and something that shocked Bra.
Staff shortages are hitting the hospitality sector hard, prompting some restaurants to look outside the industry to train those without restaurant experience for life in the kitchen. Andrew Friedman finds out more.