Chef Andre Chiang shocked the dining world on Wednesday (Oct 11) with an announcement that he will close his two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Andre on Feb 14.
He added in a letter sent in the wee hours that he wished to return his Michelin stars, and requested that his Taipei restaurant Raw not be included in the Michelin Guide should the guide launch a Taiwan edition.
The Michelin Guide bestows one star for very good cooking; two stars for a restaurant that is worth a detour while three stars are given for an exceptional restaurant that is a destination unto itself.
In Singapore, there are 30 one-Michelin-starred eateries, seven two-starred establishments including Restaurant Andre, and one three-star restaurant, Joel Robuchon Restaurant.
While Chef Andre is the first chef in Singapore to return his stars, he is not the first chef to give Michelin Guide the kiss-off.
This once-unthinkable practice has gained ground in recent years, as some high-profile chefs in Europe have rebelled against the gastronomic bible.
The pressure to chase and maintain Michelin-star status first hit the headlines in 2003. Well-known French chef Bernard Loiseau, 52, committed suicide by firing a shotgun into his mouth. There had been rumours in the French press that his restaurant, La Cote d'Or was about to lose one of its three Michelin stars.
Here is a look at some of the chefs who have opted out of the Michelin rat race.
1. Marco Pierre White
The Restaurant Marco Pierre White, London, United Kingdom
White became the youngest chef whose restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars in 1994. And he also became the first chef, five years later in 1999, to return the stars.
He is famously dismissive of the Guide's inspectors, telling The Guardian newspaper in 2015: "The people who gave me Michelin stars had less knowledge than me. You have to place a value on something that is given to you: that’s why it was so easy for me to walk away. They had no value for me."
The chef is planning to open a restaurant in Singapore this year at Robertson Quay.
2. Alain Senderens
Lucas Carton, Paris, France
The late father of nouvelle cuisine was the chef behind two restaurants, l'Archestrate and Lucas Carton, which were both bestowed with the coveted three star status.
But after 30 years of running three-starred establishments, Senderens announced in 2005 that he was giving back his three stars. He told The New York Times: "I feel like having fun. I don't want to feed my ego anymore. I am too old for that. I can do beautiful cuisine without all the tra-la-la and chichi, and put the money into what's on the plate."
3. Philippe Gaertner
Aux Armes de France, Alsace, France
Chef-owner Gaertner also gave up his one star in 2005. His family-owned restaurant had kept the star since the 1930s. He lamented the costs of maintaining the star, from the price of fine linens and cutlery to the high number of kitchen and support staff. He called the star a "sword of Damocles".
4. Karen Keygnaert
A'Qi, Bruges, Belgium
Opened in 2009, A'Qi was awarded one Michelin star two years later and held it for five years. Chef Karen told Munchies website that the star "brings along a whole circus that’s outdated".
In the interview, she also criticised the Guide as “a very closed, absolutely not transparent institute" after she got no reply to her request to return her star.
She has since closed A'Qi and opened a new restaurant, Cantine Copine.
5. Julio Biosca
Casa Julio, Fontanars del Alforins, Spain
While Chef Biosca returned his star, he has been more circumspect about the reasons why, emphasising in interviews that he admires the Michelin system which put his family's restaurant outside of Valencia in the spotlight.
He told Fortune magazine that he felt the star was "an honour" but also a straitjacket: "When I saw that I didn’t feel comfortable with this kind of food and this way of working, I decided to step aside to do something simple."
6. Olivier Douet
Le Lisita, Nimes, France
Chef Olivier returned his star after the 2008 financial crisis forced him to rethink his business.
Like Gaertner, he lamented the costs of running a Michelin-starred restaurant and he revamped his restaurant to offer a more relaxed brasserie concept, along with a much cheaper menu.
7. Frederick Dhooge
‘t Huis van Lede, east Flanders, Belgium
Chef Frederick Dhooge announced on Facebook in 2014 that he was giving back his one star.
His decision, he told media, was prompted by the fact that he wanted the freedom to cook fried chicken if he wanted to, without being told that the dish was not a Michelin star thing.
8. Sebastien Bras
Le Suquet, Laguiole, France
Le Suquet has been honoured with three Michelin stars for almost 20 years. Chef Sebastien Bras, 46, took over the family-owned restaurant 10 years ago and asked to be dropped from the Guide because of the enormous pressure that came with the ranking.
He told AFP: "Maybe I will be less famous but I accept that," adding that he would continue to cook excellent local produce "without wondering whether my creations will appeal to Michelin's inspectors".
Sources: Fortune, The Guardian, Munchies, The New York Times