Spanish cuisine

No thanks: Spanish chef snubs Michelin star

No thanks: Spanish chef snubs Michelin star
Casa Julio was opened by the Biosca family in the 1940s and is now run by fourth generation Juan Biosca. File photo: Marty Desilets
The chef at Casa Julio restaurant in Valencia has decided to renounce his coveted Michelin star due to the pressure that came with it.

Casa Julio, located in the small village of Fontanars dels Aforins, on the Valencia–Alicante border, is a family affair. Run by Bioscas since the 1940s, the restaurant has recently announced that it is giving up its coveted Michelin star, after four years of featuring in the exclusive guide.

In the mid-2000s, under fourth-generation Julio Biosca, the restaurant saw a distinct change in its cuisine, attracting the prestigious Michelin guide, but putting off locals who didn't appreciate the new, smaller portions and modern twist on traditional Spanish cuisine. Julio had wanted to incorporate what he had learnt while working at Bilbao restaurant, Zortziko, where he met José Luis Ungidos, who would become chef at Casa Julio.

“We were looking for something new based on traditional cuisine”, he told Spanish newspaper El País.

But after four years in the Michelin guide, Julio had had enough. He has nothing but respect for the Michelin guide, "The inspectors work really well…It is because of the respect that I have for the guide that I preferred to leave it".

Julio says it is not the publication that he has a problem with but, "the whole world that’s generated around it".

"When everyone is telling you you’re the best, when you don’t get your second Michelin star, you’re pissed off."

But it´s not as easy to give back your Michelin star as you might think. Julio wrote to the guide in 2013 but was still featured in the 2014 edition, only finally managing to hand back his star in time for the 2015 edition, published a couple of weeks ago.

Casa Julio is not the first restaurant to give back its Michelin start. In 2005, French chef Alain Senderens chef renounced his three Michelin stars, saying, "In these restaurants it’s all about the theatre. It has little to do with real life".

Many restaurants complain that, if anything, they lose money after receiving the Michelin star. Ferran Adrià explained in his memoirs that he lost half a million euros a year while the head chef of renowned Spanish restaurant, elBulli. So for many, the coveted star can be a curse rather than a blessing.

Pascal Remy, an ex-inspector for the Michelin Guides said whoever receives this distinction "will need more money".

"Everything you earn from new clients, you will reinvest." 

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