Obtaining a single Michelin star is no easy feat; receiving three—the guide’s highest honor—is an honor that is held by only 133 restaurants around the world. In the eyes of French chef Marc Veyrat, there should be 134, and he is pissed. Now, he’s going to court over it.
Veyrat, considered by some to be the world’s greatest living chef, is no stranger to the Michelin Guide—his three restaurants in the French Alps have all received the guide’s highest honor. He’s a hyper-locavore who prides himself on cooking from the land his family has owned for generations, growing his own produce, raising his own livestock, making his own bread and cider. Michelin demoted his restaurant, Le Maison des Bois, from three to two stars in January, and to say Veyrat didn’t take it well is a severe understatement.
In June he sent a open letter to Michelin, calling the guide’s inspectors “incompetent” and “amateurs,” demanding to see receipts proving they had actually eaten at the restaurant, and announcing that he would both be giving his two stars back and permanently withdrawing himself from the Michelin guide. The greatest sin, he has claimed, is not that he lost a star, but rather that a claim that his soufflé contained English cheddar cheese was both an insult to him, as well as his entire region of France.
In an exclusive interview with France’s Le Point, Veyrat explained the severity of the guide’s actions (h/t to Google Chrome for automatically translating this):
I feel like my parents are dead a second time. You can imagine the shame I feel: I am the only leader in history to have landed a third star and lost it the following year. Every morning, I wake up with that in mind. I am exhausted, I have trouble sleeping, I hardly eat anymore, I cry, I feel sick. I had to take a cure to treat myself and I take medicine. I had black thoughts. I envisioned the worst. It went through my head several times. I wanted to join my friend Bernard Loiseau up there. My companion was scared, she hid my pills, my hunting rifles ... If I’m still here, it’s thanks to her and the support of my four children.
Michelin denied all of Veyrat’s requests, confirming that their inspectors had eaten at the restaurant multiple times—though the guide refused to hand over receipts and other documentation of their visits, and vowed that as long as Le Maison des Bois remained open, it was fair game for reviews. As all of this was unacceptable to Veyrat, he decided to pursue justice through the courts, announcing yesterday that his attorneys have formally filed suit against the prestigious travel and dining guide.
In response, representatives from Michelin have said: “We understand the disappointment of Mr Veyrat, whose talent no one disputes... we will study his requests carefully and respond.”
The case is due to be heard in court on November. In the meantime, Veyrat will continue working at La Maison, where business has been up 10% since 2018.