Is a Michelin Star the Best Metric of Good Food?

(p. A4) MONTCEAU-LES-MINES, France — It is like giving up your Nobel, rejecting your Oscar, pushing back on your Pulitzer: Jérôme Brochot, a renowned and refined chef, decided to turn in his Michelin star.
He is renouncing the uniquely French distinction that separates his restaurant from thousands of others, the lifetime dream of hundreds. But Mr. Brochot’s decision was not a rash one, born of arrogance, ingratitude or spite. Rather, it was for a prosaic, but still important, reason: he could no longer afford it.
. . .
Even in a region famed for its culinary traditions, this declining old mining town deep in lower Burgundy could not sustain a one-star Michelin restaurant. Mr. Brochot, a youthful-looking 46, had gambled on high-end cuisine in a working-class town and lost.
. . .
Already Mr. Brochot’s strategy appears to be working. He has cut his prices and is offering a more down-to-earth cuisine of stews, including the classic blanquette de veau, and serving cod instead of the more expensive sea bass.
It had depressed him deeply, he said, to have to throw away costly bass and turbot, like gold even in France’s street markets, at the end of every sitting because his customers couldn’t afford it. “There was a lot of waste,” he said.
“Since we changed the formula, we’ve gotten a lot more people,” Mr. Brochot said. Above all, the effect has been psychological. “In the heads of people, a one-star, it’s the price,” he said.
On a recent Friday afternoon, most of the tables had diners, including Didier Mathus, the longtime former mayor, a Socialist.
. . .
“Maybe the star scared people,” Mr. Mathus said. “I understand. He’s saying, ‘Don’t be scared to come here.’ Here, it’s simple people, with modest incomes.”

For the full story, see:
ADAM NOSSITER. “Rejected Honor Reflects Hardships of ‘the Other France’.” The New York Times (Thurs., December 28, 2017): A4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date DEC. 27, 2017, and has the title “Chef Gives Up a Star, Reflecting Hardship of ‘the Other France’.”)

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