Why Are Chefs Voluntarily Giving Up Their Michelin Stars?

Keeping a restaurant up to Michelin standard is tougher than you might think.

It may sound shocking that Julio Biosca of the famed Casa Julio in Spain is giving up his Michelin star after being featured on the prestigious list four years in a row. After all, it is one of the highest honors in global high-end cuisine that a chef can receive. But Biosca stated that although he has no problem with the Michelin brand, the chef began to see the title as “burdensome,” according to the Local, because once chefs become starred, it becomes an all-consuming quest to add a second and third. This is what’s become known as the Michelin curse, and Biosca joins a growing number of chefs who have decided to give back their star status.

The trend of giving up Michelin stars began famously with Marco Pierre White, who returned his three-star rating in 1999 because, as he explained, “Michelin star restaurants are not what people want.” More recently, earlier this year, Fredrick Dhooghe of Huis Van Lede in Belgium returned his stars because the rating “attracted demanding tourist diners,” according to The Star Online. And in 2012, chef Skye Gyngell of Petersham Nurseries Cafe in London called her Michelin stars “a curse,” “People have certain expectations of a Michelin restaurant, but we don’t have cloths on the tables, our service isn’t very formal… they feel let down when they come here,” Gyngell told Australia’s Good Weekend magazine.

Most notably, the “curse” may refer to chef Bernard Loiseau, who committed suicide after reportedly hearing that his restaurant might lose its status. In Biosca’s case, he simply does not want to be “putting on airs,” and would rather just succeed on his own, sans star status.

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