Chef Marc Veyrat is suing Michelin for alleging he put cheddar in his souffle

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Two Michelin star chef Marc Veyrat has hired a legal team to force The Michelin Guide to hand over a detailed report of their inspection of his restaurant leading to the removal of his third Michelin star.

The chef owner of La Maison des bois in Manigot, Marc Veyrat has called the Michelin Guide team 'impostors' and 'incompetent' for claiming that he used cheddar in a soufflé - which in fact contained cheeses from his region of Savoie.

Speaking on French radio France Inter, the chef said he had been "dishonoured" and that his team had be brought to tears by the decision. He alleged that the inspector upon whom the decision to downgrade his restaurant rested mistook colour imparted by saffron for cheddar. 

"Is that what you call knowledge of a place?" 

"It's just crazy," he said.  

The chef has thus requested that Michelin hand over documents justifying the exact reasons for the removal of his star, with a court hearing set on November 27th. 

Michelin responded by saying that  it "understands the disappointment for Mr Veyrat, whose talent no one contests, even if we regret his unreasonable persistance 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." 

Stars aren't a chef's to give back

The chef previously requested for his restaurant to be taken out of the Guide altogether, but international director Gwendal Poullennec responded that this was impossible, as stars aren't a chef's to give back.

At the time, Poullennec said: "Michelin stars belong to restaurants, not chefs, they do not have the authority to return them." 

"When he was promoted, he came up on stage and accepted the award, he displayed the three stars on his website, but when he lost one, he criticised our methods." 

Veyrat – whose previous restaurants, La Maison de Marc Veyrat (or l'Auberge de l'Eridan) in Veyrier-du-Lac and la Ferme de mon Père were both awarded three Michelin stars, he called Poullenec's professionalism into question and went as far as saying that the Guide used him and his restaurant as a way of creating a media stir.

The chef claimed he has had 'dark thoughts' since losing his star

In a recent interview, the chef confided in his friend and Le Point journalist Thibaut Danancher, telling him that he has regularly considered ending his life since his restaurant was demoted.

The 69 year-old chef said he met Gwendal Poullennec at the guide’s headquarters in Paris to elucidate the reasons for his restaurant’s demotion – after Poullennec told him that they were “obliged” to take away his star over the phone on January 20th.

The chef was convinced that Michelin’s inspectors didn’t visit his restaurant the year he lost his star, as nobody showed him a credentials card. His requests to see the receipts for the inspectors’ meals were declined,  which for him attested that there is something underhand at play.

“If Michelin has nothing to hide, why won’t it provide me with the bill?” he said. 

“Disconnected from reality, losing momentum and barely selling any guides in France anymore.”

The chef extended his criticism to the Guide as a whole, which he said isn't what it used to be. 

“I’m ill at ease with the turn that the Michelin Guide has taken,” he said. “It used to reward the exceptional, now it consecrates the sensational. It doesn’t judge cooking, but everything around it.”

The chef called out the guide for accepting money from tourism boards – such as it did recently, when it launched its first state-wide guide in California and was paid $600,000 for it.

“Where is the independence?” he said. “I worry about what our young chefs will suffer at the hands of a system which doesn’t have the Michelin’s original DNA.”

Despite it all, the chef has said that his business hasn’t suffered from losing its star – quite the contrary, as his profit margins are up 10% on last year - and that customers has assured him that he is a better chef than he was when he held three stars in Veyrier-du-Lac or Megève.

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 12th July 2019

Chef Marc Veyrat is suing Michelin for alleging he put cheddar in his souffle