Welsh Fine-Dining Spot Returns Michelin Star
Earning a Michelin star is considered the Holy Grail for any restaurant, a stamp of approval for any fine-dining establishment. But a few restaurants have returned their Michelin stars. The latest is the rural Checkers restaurant, in Montgomery, Wales. The Checkers has held a Michelin star for seven years, largely due to the efforts of partners Stéphane Borie and Sarah Francis, and Sarah's sister Kathryn Francis.
“The latest rejection of the Michelin accolade will likely rekindle debate about the pressure and long working hours faced by chefs, particularly those feted by the French tire company's [Michelin] guidebook,” according to a story on CNN.com.
A couple of other restaurants that have returned their Michelin stars over the past two years are Restaurant Andre, a top Singaporean dining establishment, in October 2017; and French chef Sébastien Bras, in September 2016. Andre’s Chef-patron Andre Chiang said his priorities had changed to education and cooking at his Taipei restaurant.
The Checkers’ team team says they would like to pay more attention to family.
"We have taken the bold (and slightly scary, exciting and possibly bonkers) decision to take a step away from our Michelin star roots," according to the The Checkers Montgomery Facebook page.
Kathryn dismisses the notion that pressure was the sole reason for the restaurant’s giving up the coveted Michelin star.
"I think pressure on restaurants comes in many forms -- escalating food costs, hours, business rates," she says.
She insists the team valued the badge of honor.
The team is changing tack: The culinary institution will reopen as Checkers Pantry in November 2018 with breakfast and lunch service, in addition to coffee and cake, but no dinner.
Chef Borie will be taking a break, and the two sisters will be running the show.
"Sarah and I both have key roles and have five children between our two families, it will be lovely to have more evenings at home and to be a little less nocturnal!" Kathryn says.