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French chef Veyrat wants to hand back Michelin stars after ‘cheddar’ charge

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French chef Marc Veyrat holds a Michelin guide after being awarded the maximum three Michelin stars on 5 February 2018. Jacques Demarthon/AFP

French chef Marc Veyrat has railed against the Michelin Guide, demanding that his top restaurant be withdrawn from the coveted listing, after an "amateur" inspector claimed he had used English cheddar cheese in his soufflé.


Marc Veyrat's La Maison des Bois restaurant in the French Alps was downgraded to two stars from the maximum three in January and he said the loss had plunged him into a six-month-long depression.

"How dare you take your chefs' health hostage?" he wrote in a blistering letter to the guide, regarded as the bible of haute cuisine.

Veyrat, 69, took particular umbrage at inspectors "daring to say that I put cheddar in our soufflé of (local) reblochon, beaufort and tomme cheeses."

"They have insulted my region," he told the French news agency AFP. "My employees were furious. We only use the eggs from our own hens, the milk is from our own cows and we have two botanists out every morning collecting herbs," the chef declared.

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Veyrat, who made his name with his so-called "botanical" cooking, using wild herbs gathered around his restaurants in his native Haute-Savoie region, denounced the "profound incompetence" of the guide's famously rigorous inspectors.

"You are impostors who only want to stir up controversy for your own commercial reasons," he said. "We are pulling our restaurant out of the Michelin Guide."

But Michelin responded that it would not withdraw its listing, despite Veyrat travelling to the French capital to confront its editors face to face.

"Michelin guide inspectors visit restaurants across the world anonymously. They pay their bills like every other customer," said its new director Gwendal Poullennec, who disputed a claim by Veyrat that the inspectors may not have eaten at his table.

The chef also claimed that a new generation at the head of the guide were trying to make their names by attacking the pillars of French cuisine.

Veyrat – who won back the top rating only last year – was forced to give up cooking a decade ago after a serious skiing accident.

His restaurant La Maison des Bois was ravaged by fire four years ago as he tried to make a comeback.

But in 2018 he finally landed the coveted third star, the summit of culinary achievement, for the alpine establishment, declaring that he had felt "like an orphan" while not in the Michelin.

Veyrat has also won three stars for two other restaurants.

(with AFP)