Product quality, recruitment, pressure … What difference does a star make to a chef?


A Michelin star is the greatest reward for a chef. But, in the weeks and months following the awarding of the prestigious badge, what changes for cooks? Products, recruitment, pressure … 20 minutes questioned the protagonist Hérault about the consequences of the distinction on their work.

To win the star, of course, the chefs pay particular attention to the quality of the products. Once awarded, do they try to go a little further? At the Jardin des sens, with the Pourcel brothers, greeted by a first star in March, the requirement is already there, confides Jacques Pourcel. “We are mainly small producers”, observes the chef. We have been taking this approach to product quality for a long time. The quality “is there and will remain the same”, assures him.

Even better products?

Denis Martin, the chef of The Marcel, in Sète, starred for four years, has also always been “very, very demanding” with products. “But this forces me to persevere, to go and look for my little shepherd in Mèze”, he confides. But they have to agree to work for us. And it’s not easy! It is not enough to arrive at a farm and say: “Your lamb is wonderful, I want to work with you! We talk to the farmers, who need a feeling. “For Guillaume Leclere, chef of the restaurant that bears his name, starred since 2021, distinguishing himself from Michelin means“ visibility, with the producers ”. “It stimulates manufacturers and suppliers to knock on our door, because they know their products will be offered, they will be respected,” he says.

Easier recruiting?

Since the Covid-19 emergency, hiring has been a real nuisance for restaurateurs. And for starred chefs? “The whole sector is affected, whether it’s stars, bistros, breweries, etc.”, assures Jacques Pourcel, who receives “very few” CVs. “It’s tough for us too. There are many places and few suitors. Certainly. , emissions, such as Top Chef, have aroused interest in this profession among young people. But it’s a commitment, you have to work in the evenings, on weekends… ”But a starred restaurant is necessarily more attractive for young people, notes the chef. “In a resume, saying that they have worked in a starred is necessarily a resource for their career,” he assures him.

Denis Martin confirms: the red guide means more visibility for the occupation. But it remains “terrible, observes the chef. We focus on the well-being of the staff. We have changed hours, we have increased salaries, we are hosting most of our employees… And, despite this, we are struggling to find “talent. For the group leader it is necessary to “reassure” the young people. “Tell them we’re not the generation before, where we scream everywhere, he smiles. So come on! “Guillaume Leclere, receives spontaneous applications, which before the star did not have. “People who come from other cities, who have a fairly broad track record, inevitably go to star-rated establishments,” he confides.

Michelin dishes awarded to starred chefs
Michelin plates awarded to starred chefs – N. Bonzom / Maxele Presse

Even more pressure?

Once the star is in your pocket, another battle begins – don’t lose it. Does this represent additional pressure in the brigades? “The star is very motivating for the teams,” confides Jacques Pourcel. For Laurent Cherchi, the chef of Reflet d’Obione, protagonist since last year, pressure or not, “depends on everyone’s experience” in his team. “If they have ever worked in a starred restaurant, etc. We are still in a state of mind where we will try to do better than the night before. It stimulates and, at the same time, we know that nothing is certain. “

Denis Martin, for his part, admits some more pressure. “We don’t want to disappoint customers, we don’t want to disappoint the Michelin guide, we don’t want to disappoint ourselves,” he says. “In any case, we need pressure in our profession, confides Guillaume Leclere. For questioning, for regularity. If you do it as an amateur, it can’t work. Thereafter, this pressure must only be negative. You must come to the kitchen with the pleasure of doing this job. “

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