Oct. 25 was a bittersweet day for Bruno Chemel. The French-born chef and owner of Palo Alto’s Baume restaurant got a call from his mother in France informing him that his father had suffered a mild stroke. He is expected to recover, but the news was obviously troubling. Then Chemel received another unexpected call. The Michelin Guide called to tell Chemel he had won two Michelin stars, an honor shared by just a handful of Bay Area restaurants and just one other in Silicon Valley, Manresa in Los Gatos.

“It was kind of a shock,” Chemel said. “I wasn’t expecting it. I’m still in shock.”

While the Michelin Guide just began awarding stars in the United States six years ago, the pomp and pressure surrounding the prestigious award runs deep in Europe, especially in France, where the guide (and tire company) is based. Baume grew up just an hour from Michelin’s headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand, south of Paris. He has vivid memories of dining at Michelin-starred restaurants with his parents.

“As a French man it’s a big thing,” he said. “I never thought I’d have a star.” Now he’s got two. “It was a very emotional day.”

Of course, Chemel is no stranger to Michelin stars. He took over Chez T.J. in Mountain View in 2008, where outgoing chef Christopher Kostow had earned the restaurant two stars. Chemel aimed to hold on to them, but when Michelin ranked the restaurant the next year, it was downgraded to one star. After a highly public dispute, Chemel left Chez T.J. to open his own restaurant, while owner George Aviet groused that Chemel was “incapable” of earning two stars.

Chemel took the high road and preferred not to comment about his former boss’s assessment of his culinary abilities. “I’m just looking to the future,” he said.

New Chez T.J. chef Joey Elenterio, the latest cook to step through the restaurant’s revolving door, held on to the restaurant’s lone star. Say what you will about Aviet’s inability to retain chefs for any length of time, he knows how to spot talent. In addition to Chemel, former chef Joshua Skenes scored two stars at Saison, and Kostow retained his three stars at Meadowood in St. Helena. The only other chef with three stars in the Bay Area is the French Laundry’s Thomas Keller. Meanwhile, Chemel had been pursuing plans to open a second, more casual restaurant, but after earning two stars he’s putting those plan on hold for now as he shoulders the pressure that comes with maintaining two Michelin stars. “Maybe the third will come. As of now I feel really glad and really blessed.

In addition to two-star Manresa and one-star Chez T.J., the other Silicon Valley star recipients include Alexander’s Steakhouse, Madera, Dio Deka, the Plumed Horse and the Village Pub. Each received one star from Michelin. Not on the list is San Jose’s excellent La Papillon. As revered as the Michelin Guide is, I think the omission of Le Papillon shows a real lack of judgment. But there’s always next year.