Every year, the Michelin Guide announces which restaurants will receive a star (or multiple stars) for that year. It’s an eagerly anticipated announcement in the food world, and it’s something that can elevate innovative cooking and raise the profile of an underrated chef. That’s the up side — but there’s also a down side to those chefs who find themselves stripped of one star, or multiple stars.
An article in The New Yorker in 2016 explored several cases where stress over potentially losing a Michelin star led to a chef’s death by suicide. With a growing awareness about the mental health issues that can emerge from restaurant work, it begs the question: how is the Michelin Guide addressing giving restauranteurs potentially devastating news?
Writing at The Washington Post, Annabelle Timsit recounted some of the steps the organization has taken to soften the blow. This includes a description of Gwendal Poullennec, Michelin Guides’ international director, having in-person conversations with two chefs to notify them about the pending loss of a star.
“We are fully aware of the impact of our decisions for the restaurants concerned,” a spokesperson for the organization told the Post. And, according to the article, it’s also reaching out to other restaurants that are slated to lose a star as well.
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Elsewhere in the Post’‘s conversation, the Michelin Guides’ spokesperson also noted that reaching out to restaurants means that “we can also take the time to explain our decisions.” Which seems better for all involved — nominally, a chef who understands the reasons why a star was lost will have a more tangible idea of what they have to do in order to get it back. It’s a challenging time to work in the food industry — but hopefully this will make things somewhat easier for all involved.