French chef Jerome Brochot voluntarily gave up one of the most esteemed awards in the culinary world awarded to his restaurant Le France, a hotel restaurant in a small mining town of Montceau-les-Mines in lower Burgundy.
Receiving a Michelin star is the most prestigious badge a restaurant and its owner can wear. It is considered the highest achievement in the culinary industry, but to Chef Brochot, it also meant a sizable expense.
As a small-town French restaurant, buried deep in lower Burgundy, Le France struggled to keep its doors open. Brochot wrote to the Guide Michelin, per The New York Times, that he could no longer make ends meet. Kitchen personnel had been cut from six to three because he could no longer pay for the personnel, produce and precision to execute Michelin-caliber dishes.
The bright orange hotel-restaurant juts out from its surrounding town of Montceau, a faded mining town with a population of about 20,000 and unemployment rate hovering around 21 percent. Faded "for sale" signs and shuttered stores line the same street as Brochot's restaurant. Business was dwindling.
Brochot recalled all the waste -- throwing away expensive ingredients like turbot and even gold because his customers could not afford it. However, since renouncing his Michelin star In November, Brochot says business is changing -- prices were cut and more "down-to-earth" cuisine was offered, encouraging more customers in the restaurant.
Brochot is just one of many high-profile chefs who voluntarily renounced their Michelin stars. Acclaimed French chef Sebastien Bras gave back his star, along with Spain-based chef Julio Biosca who said the accolade came with more pressure and, surprisingly, fewer customers. To restaurateurs, a Michelin star can be a bit of a curse; the stars can throttle or inflate a customer's expectations.
To food critics, a Michelin star is an assessment served for the customer, not the restaurant. Unfortunately, a chef can't do much if its restaurant is featured in a Michelin guide (aside from closing the restaurant). Chefs have found loopholes, closing their restaurant and reopening it under new names, which is exactly what chef Karen Keyngaert told Munchies she planned to do to avoid the virtually unpayable personnel costs that come with a Michelin star.