French Chef Returns Michelin Star Because He Can’t Afford It

A chef in France has asked the Michelin Guide to rescind his restaurant’s one star rating because he says he can’t afford the extra costs of maintaining a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Jérôme Brochot of Le France, a hotel restaurant in Montceau-les-Mines, a fading mining town in Lower Burgundy, which has held one Michelin star since 2005, wrote to Michelin in November 2017 with the request.

Speaking to The New York Times, Brochot said he’d had to lay off half his kitchen staff due to the costs of running a Michelin-starred restaurant in a small town where unemployment is more than double the national average, at around 21%. Filling 60 covers every day was almost impossible he says and many of the high quality ingredients such as bass and turbot went in the bin. 

Brochot has since cut his prices and adopted a simpler, more rustic cuisine that uses less expensive ingredients and, he says, business is booming. “Since we changed the formula, we’ve gotten a lot more people … In the heads of people, a one-star, it’s the price,” he said. He’s also managed to cut down on food waste.

It was not an easy decision however, and Brochot has faced criticism, including from the town’s mayor, who feels he has damaged “the whole region.” “What I’m doing today, I’m not doing lightly, but because I have no other choice,” Brochet told Michelin.

The last couple of years has seen a spate of chefs requesting to return their Michelin stars, though not usually for financial reasons, most notably three star chef Sebastian Bras, who cited the huge pressure of cooking for Michelin inspectors, something he said was stifling his restaurant’s creativity.

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