A top German chef has given up the Michelin star he has held for six years on the grounds that the award costs too much to retain.
Matthias Dahlinger, who has been running the 50-seat Eichhalde restaurant in Freiburg for the past 10 years, said the stress of maintaining the guide's unrelenting standards made life unbearable for him and his family.
"Quite aside from the fact that we can't make ends meet financially, it is an enormous stress factor," the 37-year-old chef said. "In order just to be eligible, you have to have a minimum of 250 wines on your menu, not to mention scores of aperitifs and a host of other items designed to cater to the most discriminating palate.
"No restaurant can possible recoup such expenses without sizeable outside revenues, and that is an impossibility for a small, family-run business," he added. "My restaurant is quite small, and we don't have a sideline like running a hotel that brings in the money."
However, Dahlinger said he would maintain his high standard of culinary excellence in French cuisine while "adding such German classics to the menu as roast piglet and liverwurst". "We will certainly not reduce the quality of our services but the quantity of little extras," he explained.
He is not the first chef to reject his Michelin stars. In 1999 both Marco Pierre White and Nico Ladenis claimed they had handed back their three Michelin stars. Although Michelin said there was nothing to hand back, they did reassess the restaurants.
In 2002, French chef Jean-Luc Hatet asked for the Michelin star on his La Chancelière restaurant in Montbazon, near Tours, to be replaced by a Bib Gourmand because he was simplifying his menu.
By Angela FrewinSource: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 29 May - 4 June 2003