French celebrity chef Marc Veyrat is suing the Michelin Guide claiming his restaurant was downgraded over 'cheese souffle'
The chef claims being downgraded made him depressed and left his staff in tears
Celebrity French chef Marc Veyrat has said he is suing the Michelin guide after inspectors stripped his restaurant of its coveted third star.
Veyrat claimed on Tuesday that inspectors had botched their evaluation over a cheese souffle.
"I've been dishonoured, I saw my team in tears... to have them call you one evening without warning, without anything written down, without anything, to say 'That's it, it's over'," Veyrat told France Inter radio on Tuesday.
Veyrat's restaurant in the French Alps, La Maison des Bois, was demoted to two stars from the highest accolade of three last January — a year after securing the honour.
The move plunged him into depression, he said, and the furious chef later demanded that he be removed from the vaunted red guides altogether, a request Michelin did not grant.
Veyrat claims the downgrade came after a Michelin inspector mistakenly thought he had adulterated a cheese souffle with English Cheddar, instead of using France's Reblochon, Beaufort and Tomme varieties.
"I put saffron in it, and the gentleman who came thought it was cheddar because it was yellow. That's what you call knowledge of a place? It's just crazy," Veyrat told France Inter.
His lawyer Emmanuel Ravanas had told AFP late Monday that Veyrat hopes the court will force Michelin to hand over documents "to clarify the exact reasons" justifying its decision.
He said a court hearing has been set for November 27 in Nanterre, just west of Paris.
"For decades, Marc Veyrat has been used to having his cooking graded, evaluated and compared, and he knows quite well that you don't own a star for life... He accepts it all, as long as the criticism is accurate," Ravanas said.
I've been dishonoured, I saw my team in tears.
Veyrat, 69, made his name with his so-called "botanical" cooking, employing the wild herbs gathered around his restaurants in his native Haute Savoie region.
Earlier this year the chef, who is instantly recognisable in France for his signature wide-brimmed black Savoyard hat and smoke-tinted glasses, had tried to get Michelin to hand over the inspector notes or the bills proving they had indeed dined at his establishment.
He also claimed that a new generation of editors at the head of the guide were trying to make their names by attacking the pillars of French cuisine.
But in a statement Monday, Michelin said it "understands the disappointment for Mr Veyrat, whose talent no one contests, even if we regret his unreasonable persistence with his accusations."
"Our first duty is to tell consumers why we have changed our recommendation. We will carefully study his demands and respond calmly," it said.
Veyrat's recovery of a third star for La Maison du Bois in 2018 capped a comeback after he was forced to give up cooking a decade ago after a serious skiing accident. He had previously won three stars for two other restaurants.
Updated: September 24, 2019 06:38 PM