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Palo Alto Chef Doesn’t Care At All About Michelin Stars, He Rants at Length

Plus, catching up with former SF food critic Michael Bauer and more intel

Michelin restaurant symbol on a wall. Michelin guides are a series of guide books published by the Michelin for more than a century Shutterstock

Welcome to a.m. Intel, your bite-sized roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.


Bay Area chef Bruno Chemel of Palo Alto restaurant Baumé doesn’t care at all about Michelin stars. He doesn’t care so much that he went out of his way to send a press release celebrating his restaurant’s new, star-free status earlier this week. Chemel’s restaurant previously laid claim to two of the highly prestigious adornments and has held at least one star for more than a decade. But the chef tells the SF Chronicle he did not, in fact, lose his stars but rather asked the Michelin Guide to leave him out — because nothing says “I couldn’t care less about these awards” like proactively asking to be excluded for four years and then shit-talking the whole institution by calling the guide “a ‘distraction’ with ‘erratic, corporate focus and fixations.’”

For what it’s worth, according to an interview with Palo Alto Online in 2017, Chemel previously made his quest to achieve rare three-star status well-known, even as he told the outlet he “needs no recognition and maintains impossibly high standards solely for himself and his guests.” Of course, these days “his guests” are a remarkably tiny contingency; in 2018, Chemel fired all of his staff — he was “fed up with berating his cooks for all their mistakes and inexactitudes,” and now he and his wife serve just two tables of diners five nights a week. The pescatarian tasting menu costs $298, paid in advance, with the mandatory wine pairing setting diners back anywhere from $398 to a cool $13,800 per person. [SF Chronicle]

Elephant Sushi stampedes into Hayes Valley

The former Little Gem space at 400 Grove Street in Hayes Valley will soon be to home to a new location of Elephant Sushi, which currently has one location in Russian Hill and another in Oakland, SFGate reported first. On the menu: a long list of rolls and nigiri plus hot dishes like Yummy Pockets, or spicy bay scallops and scallions stuffed in sweet tofu pockets. [SFGate]

Castro bar and nightclub the Cafe returns this weekend

Per a post on the bar’s Facebook, the Cafe is back in action as of Thursday, September 30, with plans for a whole slate of festivities including a Latin DJ night and other performances.

Ex-Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer spills secrets

If you’ve read former New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires then you won’t be entirely surprised by some of the revelations shared by former SF Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer in a recent catch-up interview with SFGate (which is also somewhat awkwardly owned by Hearst, but operates separately). For example, that he once wore a dyed his hair and “put on a fat suit” before going to a high-end restaurant he was reviewing. But if you’re wondering what Bauer’s up to these days, “he’s more preoccupied with simpler pleasures like a home renovation, a miniature Aussie puppy and a rigorous walking schedule where he averages over 30,000 steps a day.” [SFGate]

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