A celebrity chef is suing the Michelin guide because he claims his restaurant lost its three-star status for using cheddar cheese in a classic French dish.
Marc Veyrat’s La Maison des Bois, near Grenoble in the French Alps, was demoted to two stars in January without warning, just a year after it secured the industry’s highest award.
The guide, the standard bearer for the world’s best cuisine, has not yet explained the demotion, said Mr Veyrat’s lawyer.
However, the chef says an inspector accused him of using cheddar in a cheese souffle rather than French Reblochon, Beaufort and Tomme varieties.
Mr Veyrat, 69, said it was a fromage faux pas from a man with an unsophisticated palate.
“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,” he told France Inter radio.
“It’s worse than a wound. It’s profoundly offensive. It gave me a depression,” he added.
The flamboyant chef made his name by championing his so-called “botanical” cooking, using wild herbs gathered around his restaurants in his native Haute Savoie region.
Famous for wearing a wide-brimmed black Savoyard hat and smoke-tinted glasses, he has previously won three stars from the prestigious red book for two other restaurants.
The chef learned of the downgrade “without any notification or advance warning”, his lawyer, Emmanuel Ravanas, said in a statement.
Mr Ravanas said he hoped a court would force Michelin to “clarify the exact reasons” for the restaurant losing its maximum three-star rating at a hearing in November.
Michelin said in a statement it “understands the disappointment for Mr Veyrat, whose talent no one contests, even if we regret his unreasonable persistence with his accusations”.
It added: “Our first duty is to tell consumers why we have changed our recommendation. We will carefully study his demands and respond calmly.”