The Checkers is known for providing world-class, exceptional French cuisine.
Calm down – I’m not talking about the shop. Nobody would mistake Checkers for a Michelin star-rated purveyor of fine foods.
The Checkers is a restaurant that serves classic French cuisine near the town of Montgomery, in the UK.
Their food is so good that they were awarded a coveted Michelin star – the highest honour a restaurant and chef can receive, and have held onto it for the past seven years, reports CNN.
Now partners Stéphane Borie and Sarah Francis, along with Sarah’s sister Kathryn Francis (below), want to give it back, and they aren’t the first restaurant to do so.
The threesome have dubbed themselves “the Frenchman and the farmer’s daughters”, with the fusion of their backgrounds and experiences making The Checkers a successful staple of the Michelin Guide since 2011.
Another French chef, Sébastien Bras, tried to give back his three Michelin Stars because he wanted to be free of the pressure that came with the honour. In the same year, Restaurant Andre, a top Singaporean dining spot, returned its two Michelin stars because Chef-patron Andre Chiang (below) also wanted to focus on his cooking.
The Francis/Borie family agree that the pressures of holding a Michelin star can get in the way of experimentation and the joy of cooking. They also want to focus on family.
“We thought long and hard about taking our business in a new direction, having a star is the ultimate benchmark of our trade and we have treasured ours for seven years,” Kathryn tells CNN Travel.
“But it was time to take a new direction — one that frees Stéphane up to do more freelance and private work and one that made having our own business a little more family friendly.”
This latest rejection of the Michelin accolade points to a trend in the industry, likely to spark debate about the pressures and long working hours faced by chefs, and especially those that make it into the Michelin star rankings.
“I think pressure on restaurants comes in many forms — escalating food costs, hours, business rates,” says Kathryn.
But she insists her team only ever felt positively about their star.
“We have huge respect for what a star stands for and it was important for us to let guide know that we were completely changing what we do. It is the ultimate benchmark and one that relies on consistency.”
Kathryn says that the response from customers to their decision has been overwhelmingly positive.
After all, the absence of the star doesn’t change the quality of the food.
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