Skye Gyngell quits restaurant because she couldn"t cope with diners" high expectations

Cursed by my Michelin star: Celebrity chef quits complaining she can't live up to the accolade
Skye Gyngell says since the award there has been a lot more complaints She took the star off the website to stop people moaning it wasn't up to Michelin standards

For most chefs, winning a Michelin star would be the icing on the cake of culinary achievement.

But Skye Gyngell has quit her London restaurant, claiming that the prestigious award had become a curse.

Miss Gyngell, 47, had been head chef at Petersham Nurseries Cafe since it opened in 2004 and picked up the Michelin accolade last year.

Too much pressure: Skye Gyngell removed the star from the restaurants website and said she hoped she would never be awarded another

Too much pressure: Skye Gyngell removed the star from the restaurants website and said she hoped she would never be awarded another

Celebrity chef Skye Gyngell has quit her Michelin-starred restaurant after revealing that the prestigious award became 'a curse'.

Celebrity chef Skye Gyngell has quit her Michelin-starred restaurant after revealing that the prestigious award became 'a curse'

The quirky cafe, set in a greenhouse
near Richmond Park, enjoyed a celebrity following which had included
Madonna, Richard E Grant, Mick Jagger and Stella McCartney.

Shortly before leaving, Miss Gyngell
removed the star from the restaurant’s website and said she hoped she
would never be awarded another.

She said the establishment struggled
to meet diners’ expectations of a Michelin-starred restaurant such as
starched linen, matching glasses, and slick service. She said of the
award: ‘It’s been a curse.

That probably sounds very ungrateful.
Since we got the star we’ve been crammed every single day, which is
really hard for such a tiny restaurant. And we’ve had lots more
complaints.

Madonna

Mick Jagger

Celebrities including Madonna, Richard E Grant, Mick Jagger and Stella McCartney are fans of the food's focus on simple flavours

‘People have certain expectations of a
Michelin restaurant. You know, if you’re used to eating at Marcus
Wareing then they feel let down when they come here.’

Miss Gyngell, the
author of three acclaimed cookbooks, is a former drug addict and the
daughter of Australian media mogul Bruce Gyngell, who is famous for
rescuing ITV breakfast show TV-am.

She said it was ‘amazing’ Michelin had
relaxed its rules on table linen and toilets to reach out to places
like Petersham with its rickety tables, and ‘loos in a wooden shed’.

But its focus on producing fresh,
seasonal food from quality ingredients was not enough to satisfy all the
new customers used to more traditional fine dining, she lamented.

She said the establishment struggled to meet diners' expectations of a Michelin-starred restaurant such as starched linen, matching glasses, and slick service

She said the establishment struggled to meet diners' expectations of a Michelin-starred restaurant such as starched linen, matching glasses, and slick service

Miss Gyngell is a former drug addict and is the author of three acclaimed cookbooks

Miss Gyngell is a former drug addict and is the author of three acclaimed cookbooks

Some complained that it only offered one cheese, she said.

Miss Gyngell took the star off the
website to stop people complaining. ‘This is the worst thing I’m going
to say – if I ever have another restaurant I pray we don’t get a star.’

Miss Gyngell, a single mother, born in Sydney, has been married twice,
and has two daughters aged 22 and 15. She joined Petersham having moved
to the suburbs after running high-pressure kitchens in Mayfair and
Paris.

Fellow Australian Greg Malouf, who
previously ran modern Middle Eastern restaurant Mo Mo in Melbourne, has
been appouinted as her successor.

Petersham opened in 2004 with one
table that seated ten and Miss Gyngell bringing her pots and pans from
home. It now serves 120 per sitting.

At the time of the award in January
last year, Miss Gyngell had declared her accolade to be ‘fantastic’,
adding: ‘To be rewarded for all our hard work is absolutely amazing.’

A spokesman for Petersham said: ‘We
can confirm that after eight years of success in leading the team, Skye
Gyngell is off to pursue other interests. We wish her every success.’