TOULOUSE • A chef in southern France with three Michelin stars says he wants to be stripped of the distinction because of the "huge pressure" to dish up flawless fare each day.
In 1999, Mr Sebastien Bras' Le Suquet restaurant in the village of Laguiole joined the elite club of French three-star restaurants, which currently number 27.
On Wednesday, the 46-year-old said he wanted to be dropped from the 2018 edition of the Michelin Guide to "start a new chapter".
While winning the coveted distinction had been "a source of a lot of satisfaction", maintaining its exacting standards had put him under "huge pressure", he said.
He added: "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."
Michelin said it was the first time a French chef had asked to be dropped from its gastronomic bible in this way, without a major change of positioning or business model.
"We note and we respect it," said Ms Claire Dorland Clauzel, a member of the French tyre-maker's executive committee. She added, however, that the request would not lead to Le Suquet's "automatic" removal from the list.
Mr Bras, who took over the business from his father a decade ago, is not the first chef to walk away from the ultra-competitive world of Michelin-star cooking.
A handful of French restaurateurs have relinquished their three-star status.
Late Paris restaurateur Alain Senderens caused a shock in 2005 by giving back his stars, claiming that diners were turned off by excessive luxury. In 2008, chef Olivier Roellinger closed his luxury eatery in the Breton fishing village of Cancale, saying he wanted a quieter life.