In a landmark case for the world of fine dining, a Paris court has ruled that chef Marc Veyrat is not owed an explanation by Michelin as to why the prestigious company removed the third star attached to his Maison de Bois restaurant in the French Alps.
“I have a lot of respect for Michelin in France... but they made a mistake in my case, and they need to recognise it,” Veyrat told AFP prior to the ruling.
The chef criticised Michelin’s inspectors as “incompetent” after they claimed he used English cheddar cheese in a souffle.
Veyrat was seeking proof from Michelin that its inspectors had eaten at his restaurant and taken written notes during the tasting.
He launched the lawsuit against Michelin in January shortly after the guide took away the third star just one year after the restaurant had won it.
In September, Veyrat’s lawyer Emmanuel Ravanas told AFP that the chef hoped Michelin would be forced to produce documents in court that could “clarify the exact reasons” why it demoted the restaurant.
“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.
Meanwhile, Michelin’s legal team criticised Veyrat’s lawsuit as an abuse of the legal system and dubbed Veyrat a “narcissistic diva”.
“It’s a question of respecting the freedom of criticism and opinion in our country,” said Richard Malka, Michelin’s lawyer, in a statement given to AFP last week.
Veyrat spoke about the cheddar cheese misunderstanding earlier this year in an interview with French radio channel France Inter.
The chef said an inspector concluded that his restaurant’s cheese souffle contained English cheddar, when in actual fact it was made using French Reblochon, Beaufort and Tomme cheeses.
“I put saffron in it, and the gentleman who came thought it was cheddar because it was yellow,” Veyrat stated.
“That’s what you call knowledge of a place? It’s just crazy.”
At the time, Michelin released a statement regarding the demotion of Veyrat’s restaurant, saying the company “understands the disappointment for Mr Veyrat, whose talents 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,” Michelin added.
Veyrat isn't the only chef to have spoken out after Michelin removed stars attached to one of their restaurants.
In 2014, British chef Gordon Ramsay told a Norweigian-Swedish TV show, Skavlan, that he was "very emotional" after his New York restaurant, The London, lost its two-star rating.
"I started crying when I lost my stars. It's a very emotional thing for any chef," he said. "It's like losing a girlfriend. You want her back."
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