Top Irish chef may hand back Michelin star

The country’s youngest Michelin-starred chef Oliver Dunne has told how he is considering handing back the famous French rating.

While star ratings are sought by many top chefs, the Dubliner said he believed the highly-coveted sign over the door could be intimidating to customers.

His restaurant, Bon Appetit, is one of only eight Irish restaurants to have been awarded the ultimate culinary award for 2013.

But he said yesterday on the Ray D’Arcy Show that he has been thinking about returning the endorsement to the Michelin Guide.

“I’ve thought about it. It’s a bit of a burden in terms of perception.

“People have a bit of fear factor about it. ‘My tux isn’t clean.’ It’s not like that at all,” he said.

Dunne won his first star in 2008 at Bon Appetit — just a year after he opened the doors — to become the youngest Michelin star chef in Ireland.

But he was keen to point out yesterday that the key to receiving the sought-after stamp of approval is substance over style.

“All a Michelin star means is three consistent courses. The Michelin inspector told me word-for-word to my face ‘You could win a Michelin star in a phone box once you deliver three consistent courses’.

“Everything else is irrelevant. There are no dickie bows and ‘Da, da, Your lobster, Sir’. It’s not important. It’s three consistent courses. All a Michelin starred restaurant means to me is you are going to have great food all the time all the year round. That’s it.”

But he said he can find it hard to keep busy every night as his Malahide eatery is on the outskirts of the capital.

“I’m not city centre so you don’t have the population to come on the quieter nights.”

He said he hadn’t found it hard to maintain the exclusive status in the kitchen since 2008.

“We’ve had it for six years now. I just come in and do my work. I just go to work like everyone else and that’s what we’re used to doing.

“I have worked in Michelin stars [restaurants] for the guts of 15 years now. It’s all I know. I just come in and cook a chicken and this is how we do it and I just stick to that.”

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