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As the world of gastronomy looks forward to the unveiling of the Michelin Guide France 2018 on 5 February the little red book has given a preliminary scoop to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Following lengthy discussions, inspectors have chosen to respect the wishes of French chef Sébastien Bras, and take back his three stars at Suquet, in Laguiole, as he first requested back in September 2017. (Read more here.)
Even if the announcement doesn't come as a huge surprise, the outcome wasn't always a foregone conclusion. Following the original request from the chef, the Michelin Guide replied that such a withdrawal was not "automatic", with the red book wishing to affirm its "independence" as to the attribution of the stars.
The suspense ended on Wednesday 30 January with an announcement from the Michelin Guide to AFP: "It seemed difficult to include a restaurant in the guide that has clearly indicated that it did not wish to appear and did not want to be part of the big family of Michelin stars, "said Claire Dorland-Clauzel, a member of the executive committee of the Michelin group, for whom this scenario is "a first."
"Sébastien Bras said it was a well-considered family decision, and he himself says that he is entering a new stage in his life and we respect a family decision" she said. "This is the first time we have a public demand of this kind, there have been restaurant closures, chefs who have decided to do something else, to change their concept," said Claire Dorland-Clauzel.
Removing Le Suquet from the guide is "a decision that is not easy, we took the time to consider it." Will this withdrawal encourage other leaders to make their stars? Claire Dorland-Clauzel remains quietly confident: "There are many more people who want to enter the guide than the other way around. Many chefs have expressed that to be included in the Michelin Guide is a recognition, an honor, a huge boost for the establishment, notoriety and turnover".
"The pressure is really linked to excellence, it's true that it's a difficult job, and every day, at lunch and dinner, customers are judged. Michelin does not evaluate the service, the dishes, the decor, we do not ask for any investment, the investment and price policy is that of the chefs," said a committee member.