It is not necessarily profitable to be awarded the Michelin stars, because receiving this distinction from the famous French gastronomic guide brings with it an increase of 30% in restaurant management costs. It is true that one, two or three Michelin stars tend to attract more diners, which increases turnover, but to meet this greater demand must hire more chefs, waiters and service professionals in general. In fact, the line dedicated to paying staff can be up to 50% of the establishment’s expenses. You also have to buy more raw materials, diversify the winery with more wines and acquire more expensive, sophisticated tableware and tableware. In the end, the profitability is not very big. The luckiest get between 2% and 15% of profits, although these can be counted almost with the fingers of the hand. That is why not a few have fallen by the wayside and have had to renounce the stars or close the business due to the pressure it entails: for example, El Bulli by Ferrán Adriá, Sergi Arola Gastro, Miramón Arbelaitz… The pressure is so great that there have even been chefs who have taken their own lives because they cannot stand the stress that comes with keeping the Michelin Guide inspectors happy.
The world of haute cuisine has not yet assimilated the disappearance of the French chef Benoît Violier, who committed suicide in 2016 for causes that are still unknown but which have been linked to the pressure of living with the demands that come with the maximum recognition. In fact, many chefs have renounced their Michelin stars to suffer less stress and improve their quality of life. The professional kitchen is not a trade available to everyone, since it requires great application, constant effort and practically dedicates life to it. In 2003, French chef Bernard Loiseau committed suicide by shooting himself with his hunting rifle, after having been in a depression for a while because of the quality standards that the three-star Michelin Guide had to maintain in its restaurant. . There were rumors in the media that his business was going to lose one of the stars, and Loiseau could not stand it. Before, in 1999, Marco Pierre White renounced the three stars of his restaurant and attacked Michelin and its managers. In 2005, Alain Senderens decided to give a new direction to his career by giving up the three stars that his restaurant in Paris maintained for 28 years. The same was done in successive years by Antoine Westremann, Olivier Roellinger or the Spanish Joan Borràs, who renounced his star in Girona to take things slowly after overcoming a cancer. Another curious case in Spain has been that of Miquel Ruiz, who after achieving great prestige reaching the stars in several restaurants now he devotes himself to cooking to his liking that he likes in a modest bar in Denia.
If getting a Michelin star brings prestige, recognition, publicity and more customers, why are so many chefs giving up? Is it not even economically profitable? Actually, in the end, profitability comes from the fact that the star brings prestige and popularity to the chef, and the restaurant is a showcase that opens the way to other parallel businesses. That’s why we see so many chefs announcing products of this or that supermarket, making television programs, publishing books or giving lectures. An agenda of activities that compensates for the high costs.