Hell hath no fury like a French chef scorned. And, folks, Marc Veyrat has been scorned.
A year ago, Veyrat, the chef behind La Maison des Bois in the French Alps, was flying high having earned his coveted third Michelin star. But in January the gourmet guide quickly snatched that third star back sending Veyrat into histrionics. And now he’s suing demanding from Michelin “the exact reasons for his downgrading,” arguing that the decision had left him disgraced and depressed and his staff in tears.
Veyrat’s main bone of contention is that an inspector incorrectly said he used cheddar in a soufflé. Clearly an affront to this particular chef. “I put saffron in it, and the gentleman who came thought it was cheddar because it was yellow,” he added. “That’s what you call knowledge of a place? It’s just crazy.”
This lawsuit comes on the heels of Veyrat sending a letter to Michelin in July, where he accused Michelin of not actually having any inspectors eat at La Maison des Bois before the downgrade. His evidence being they couldn’t have been there if they were so wrong about the cheese he used in his soufflé. In that letter, he also called Michelin incompetent. “I have been depressed for six months. How dare you take the health of your chefs hostage?” he wrote at the time. “They dared to say that we put cheddar in our soufflé of reblochon, beaufort and tomme! They have insulted our region; my employees were furious.” Veyrat demanded that Michelin take back the other two stars as well because he no longer wanted to be listed in the guide.
In the aftermath of the note, Michelin refused to heed Veyrat’s request to delist La Maison des Bois. “The stars are awarded by Michelin on a yearly basis and they are not the property of the chefs. They are for readers and foodies to give them the opportunity to discover an experience,” said Gwendal Poullennec the international director of the Michelin Guide. Poullennec also dismissed Veyrat’s assertion that inspectors hadn’t visited the restaurant in the first place.
In that respect, it does seem Veyrat’s accusation about inspectors being absent does seem a bit absurd. It actually behooves Michelin to have three-star restaurants that fly the tire company’s banner proudly. So much so that the company will even tell restaurants about problems ahead of time—like in the instance of Jean-Georges Vongerichten being demoted from three stars to two in 2017. That restaurant had been given warnings of a demotion.
In response to this suit, Michelin offered a statement in which they just sounded annoyed. “Michelin understands the disappointment for Mr Veyrat, whose talent no one contests, even if we regret his unreasonable persistence with his accusations.”
Veyrat’s lawyer told Agence France Presse that a hearing has been scheduled for November 27, where the 69-year-old chef wants to demand transparency for why he lost his star.