A French Chef Is Suing the Michelin Guide Over His Two-Star Rating
Chef Marc Veyrat believes that his restaurant, La Maison des Bois, lost a star in the 2019 France Guide because of a cheese soufflé.
While Michelin is in the midst of its 2020 selection announcements for the U.S.—Chicago’s Bib Gourmand list was announced on September 19, and Washington D.C. saw 44 restaurants recognized in its own Bib Gourmand list on Monday—across the Atlantic, French chef Marc Veyrat has announced that he’s suing the guide over the loss of a star. His Haute-Savoie restaurant, La Maison des Bois, attained the coveted three-star rating in the 2018 France Guide, known for plant-forward dishes and Alpine-inspired cooking. However, the rating was quickly downgraded to two stars in the 2019 guide this past January. It’s common for star ratings to fluctuate—a new chef might take over, or the restaurant might introduce a new concept or menu. But Veyrat claims that the decision was based on a misunderstanding with a cheese soufflé, reports Franceinfo.
Veyrat says that Michelin inspectors believed the soufflé was made with cheddar, when in fact, the yellow color in the dish came from saffron. The loss of the star was upsetting for him and his staff, and he initially asked for the restaurant to be removed entirely from the Michelin Guide this past July—Michelin declined. In a phone call with The New York Times, his lawyer, Emmanuel Ravanas, explained that Veyrat is now suing in the hopes that the guide will "produce documents, like restaurant bills and reviewer notes, that would help explain the demotion." A court hearing has been set for November 27.
“We understand Mr. Veyrat’s disappointment, and no one is disputing his talent, although we regret his unreasonable persistence in accusing and noisily communicating,” Michelin said in a statement on Monday. “We will carefully study his demands and respond calmly.”
Veyrat is far from the first chef to push back against Michelin. Sébastien Bras, behind Le Suquet à Laguiole, famously asked the guide to omit his restaurant from the 2018 France guide, citing that he wanted to be able to experiment without having to worry about the approval (or disapproval) of the inspectors. Le Suquet was indeed absent from the 2018 guide, per his wishes; however, Bras was surprised to see that it had returned in the 2019 guide, albeit at the two-star level instead of three. Andre Chiang also announced in 2017 that he would be shutting down his critically acclaimed Restaurant Andre and returning its stars, while Olivier Duet turned his restaurant, Le Lisita, into a brasserie in 2011, ostensibly giving up his star in the process. As award season continues and the 2020 France Guide announcement nears (usually January or February), it remains to be seen where La Maison des Bois will stand.