A renowned French chef gave up his Michelin Star because he can't afford it

Jerome Brochot/Facebook‘It’s been catastrophic for the last three years,’ Jérôme Brochot said.
  • Renowned French chef Jérôme Brochot owns a restaurant in a former coal mining town in the Burgundy region of France.
  • His restaurant, Le France, was awarded a Michelin Star in 2011.
  • In November, Brochot voluntarily dropped his Michelin Star because diners in the working-class town couldn’t afford to eat there.

Jérôme Brochot, a renowned French chef, has decided to return his Michelin Star, the highest honour bestowed upon chefs around the world.

Brochot is the owner of hotel-restaurant Le France in Montceau-les-Mines, France, a former coal mining town with a population around 18,000, according to the New York Times.

In 2011, he was awarded a Michelin Star, a sign that he had succeeded at the highest level as a chef. But after a costly kitchen renovation put him in debt and Brochot couldn’t keep a steady stream of high-paying customers in the restaurant, he wrote to the Michelin Guide to give up his star, a symbol of fine dining with prices to match.

“It’s been catastrophic for the last three years,” Brochot told the Times. “We’re reacting here. We are going to do everything to keep this place going,” he said. “I’m looking for ideas to survive.”

Keep scrolling to peek inside Brochot’s restaurant.

Le France restaurant and hotel is located in Montceau-les-Mines, Burgundy, one of France’s primary wine-producing regions.

Source: The New York Times

Brochot was raised in a family of cattle farmers. After training under French chefs like Bernard Loiseau, Brochot returned to his hometown to begin cooking professionally nearly 20 years ago.

Source: The New York Times

Six years later, he was awarded his first Michelin Star for the restaurant, which also offers cooking classes. “A star in a workingman’s town, what a beautiful symbol,” he recalled to the Times.

Source: The New York Times

Up until November, Le France offered a $US130 prix-fixe menu, a steep price tag in any city. All the meat and produce comes from local farms, including his own brother’s cattle ranch.

Source: The New York Times

But Brochot began to realise that local diners, mostly working class, couldn’t afford to eat there. “There was a lot of waste,” he told the Times. He had to cut his kitchen staff from six to three to afford the ingredients required to create Michelin-quality dishes.

Source: The New York Times

With unemployment in Montceau-les-Mines around 21% and local businesses closing all around him, Brochot wrote to Michelin, saying “The economic situation here in the ex-mining basin is a disaster. What I’m doing today, I’m not doing lightly, but because I have no other choice.”

Source: The New York Times

Without a Michelin star, he’s been able to cut prices and offer inexpensive versions of his best dishes. “Since we changed the formula, we’ve gotten a lot more people,” he said. “In the heads of people, a one-star, it’s the price.”

Source: The New York Times

But the town’s mayor sees it differently, telling the local paper, “He’s hurting the whole region” by giving up his spot in the Michelin Guide.

Many locals supported his decision, though. One butcher who has “lots of little grandmothers and old people as customers” said it was “hardly a safe bet to keep a one-star open in this town.”

Source: The New York Times

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