Senderens gives up stars for 'no-fuss' meals

23rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 20 (AFP) - One of France's most famous chefs gave up his Michelin top three-star rating on Friday saying he wanted to transform his chic Paris restaurant into something simpler and less pompous in yet another upset to the world of French gastronomy.

PARIS, May 20 (AFP) - One of France's most famous chefs gave up his Michelin top three-star rating on Friday saying he wanted to transform his chic Paris restaurant into something simpler and less pompous in yet another upset to the world of French gastronomy.  

"I've looked at the situation in France and Europe today, and everything is changing," Alain Senderens told AFP, announcing he was giving up the three stars he has held for 28 years at his renowned Lucas Carton restaurant.  

"So I want to open a different restaurant, a greal meal without all the fuss," he said, adding prices at one of the French capital's best and most expensive restaurants would fall to a more affordable EUR 100 (USD 150).  

Senderens, 65, said he had not taken the decision during a fit of pique with the Michelin guide, or because he was worried about losing one of his stars, but simply because he wanted to create a "different dining experience."  

The restaurant would reopen in the autumn after a summer makeover and it would be "less three-star service, less pompous, and more friendly, more in touch with current trends."  

But the decision is yet another tremor in the world of French cuisine, badly shaken already over criticism this year of the operations of the European food bible, the Michelin guide.  

And in an earlier shock in 2003, Bernard Loiseau, 52 year-old owner of the three-starred La Cote D'Or restaurant in the Burgundy town of Saulieu, committed suicide just days after being downgraded by the GaultMillau guide, another prestigious guide.  

The daily Figaro said Friday that Senderens had decided to quit "the highly stressful and competitive gastronomic scene", adding he was among many chefs who "increasingly feel uncomfortable being judged every year by a guide."  

But Senderens praised the Michelin guide saying without it "French cuisine would not be where it is now and because we all want three stars."  

Michelin said that the ratings were meant to inform readers "and only belong to Michelin and not the restaurateur, therefore he can't give them back.  

"Senderens wants to transform his establishment into a luxury brasserie. He is changing the formula for his own reasons. And after 28 years at the top, we can only wish him every success," said spokeswoman Fabienne de Brisson.  

Senderens is not the first great chef to give up his three-star rating. In 1996, Joel Robuchon, once dubbed the "chef of the century" by the British press also renounced the honour.  

The Michelin guide, first published in 1900, introduced a system of star ratings in 1926. It awards the best food with one to three stars, the highest rating meaning "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."  

The guide's evaluations play a crucial part in the fortunes of the chefs who struggle to get into the book and rise in its ranks.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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