The Reason Chef Marc Veyrat Sued The Michelin Guide

French chef Marc Veyrat learned the hard way that you can't always get what you want. Enraged that Michelin stripped La Maison des Bois, his previously three-starred restaurant, of one star in 2019, he decided to take the iconic guide to task. More specifically, he took the institution — which has the power to make or break a chef's reputation — straight to court (via The New York Times).

Veyrat's accolade-driven career began in the 1980s (via Hotelier Middle East). He is widely acknowledged as a pioneer in the art of molecular gastronomy, credited with incorporating the laboratory-meets-kitchen style into French cooking. Veyrat opened La Maison des Bois in 2013 on family property in the Alpine ski resort of Manigod (via Andy Hayler). At the time, he had already run three-Michelin-star restaurants La Ferme de Mon Pere in Megeve and Auberge de l'Eridan at Veyrier du Lac in Annecy.

At La Maison des Bois, Veyrat turned his focus to local food sources, often foraging for ingredients in the surrounding hills. Andy Hayler says he was among the first modern-day chefs to routinely incorporate edible flowers into his recipes. His creativity and innovation paid off in the form of a three-Michelin-star rating in 2018 (via Michelin). One year later, Michelin demoted La Maison des Bois from three stars to two.

A disagreement over cheese

Veyrat isn't the only chef to lose a Michelin star. In fact, he's in good company with Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, and Paul Bocuse (via Mashed). Veyrat looked at the demotion as a personal insult, at the time telling a French broadcast outlet, "I've been dishonored. My team, I saw them cry," (via The New York Times).

In a controversy eventually labeled "Cheddargate” (via The Guardian), Veyrat called Michelin out for a lack of transparency in its review process, going so far as to suggest inspectors never actually visited La Maison des Bois before pulling the star. Ultimately, the argument centered on an inspector's reportedly inaccurate description of a soufflé — Veyrat took issue with a review that said the soufflé contained cheddar cheese when, according to him, it did not.

"If the restaurant was downgraded from three to two stars because the reviewers thought they were eating cheddar when there wasn't any, then that is extremely serious," Veyrat's lawyer told The New York Times.

In December 2019, a French court dismissed Veyrat's lawsuit on the grounds that Veyrat admittedly did not suffer any financial loss as a result of the lost star (via BBC). The following year, the chef took over La Fontaine Gaillon (via Sortir a Paris) with a caveat: no Michelin inspectors allowed (via Fine Dining Lovers).