PARIS (AFP) - Celebrity French chef Marc Veyrat said on Tuesday (Sept 24) that he has sued the Michelin guide after inspectors stripped his restaurant of its coveted third star, claiming they had botched their evaluation, in particular 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.
His La Maison des Bois restaurant in the French Alps was demoted to two stars from the maximum three last January, just a year after he secured the industry's highest accolade.
He said the move plunged him into depression, and the furious chef later demanded that he be removed from the vaunted red guides - in vain.
He 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 told AFP 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 Nov 27 in Nanterre, just west of Paris.
"For decades, 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," Mr Ravanas said.
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, he tried to get Michelin to hand over the inspector notes or the bills proving they had indeed dined at his establishment.
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.