PARIS • The pressure is off.
The Michelin Guide has agreed to take a three-star French restaurant out of its listings after its chef no longer wanted to cook under the stress of being judged.
The Le Suquet restaurant by Sebastien Bras in the rural Aveyron region has held the maximum three-star rating for 18 years.
Ms Claire Dorland Clauzel of Michelin said: "It is difficult for us to have a restaurant in the guide which does not wish to be in it.
"It is the first time we have had a public withdrawal of this sort," she added, noting that other eateries had dropped out of the guide when chefs retired or the concept had changed.
Bras, 46, caused a stir when he announced he was relinquishing the three stars currently held by an elite club of 27 French restaurants.
"You're inspected two or three times a year, you never know when. Every meal that goes out could be inspected. That means that every day, one of the 500 meals that leave the kitchen could be judged. Maybe I will be less famous, but I accept that," said the chef, who took over the famed restaurant from his father a decade ago.
He wants to "start a new chapter" in its history "without wondering whether my creations will appeal to Michelin's inspectors".
Bras is not the first chef to walk away from Michelin fame.
In 2005, the late Alain Senderens - one of the pioneers of nouvelle cuisine - closed his three-star Art Nouveau Paris restaurant, claiming he had enough of the agony of perfection and wanted to do "beautiful cuisine without all the tra-la-la and chichi".
Last year, Danish chef Rene Redzepi forfeited the two stars he won for his Noma restaurant when he closed it in order to move it to another part of Copenhagen. He said it was "necessary to break down a castle in order to build a new one".