Once again, a chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant is asking to cut ties with the fine dining guide, the Guardian reports. This time, it’s not exhaustion, pressure, or lack of funds that’s prompting the chef to shun Michelin’s attention — Marc Veyrat, chef of La Maison des Bois in Manigod, France, has doubts that Michelin inspectors properly judged his restaurant, and he wants to give back his restaurant’s two Michelin stars. Michelin is declining the demand.
In the 2019 Michelin guide to France, La Maison des Bois was demoted from three stars to two. In a letter first reported by French publication Le Point, Veyrat spoke out against the decision, expressing skepticism that Michelin inspectors visited the restaurant multiple times, as the guide claims to do for all its rankings. One bit of evidence, according to Veyrat: Michelin falsely claimed that La Maison des Bois put cheddar in its souffle. “They dared to say that we put cheddar in our souffle of reblochon, beaufort, and tomme!,” he wrote. “They have insulted our region; my employees were furious.” (There is, however, no mention of cheddar cheese in the restaurant’s online Michelin listing.)
But the supposed factual error is just the half of it. Veyrat is opposed to the “profound incompetence” of the inspectors who he says “know absolutely nothing about cooking” and “couldn’t cook a decent dish” if they tried. Michelin’s restaurant inspectors, of course, are not chefs, and cooking ability is not a prerequisite for restaurant criticism.
In a response to Veyrat, Michelin refuted claims that inspectors never ate at La Maison des Bois, noting that Veyrat wouldn’t have known when inspectors visited the restaurant because the inspectors are, by design, anonymous. The guide’s international director Gwendal Poullennec also confirmed that for as long as the restaurant exists, it will remain eligible for the guide despite Veyrat’s preferences. “We are sorry to hear of the pain he is going through, but we will continue to recommend his restaurant,” he said in Le Monde.
Michelin typically refuses to grant requests to give back stars, but in January 2018, the guide allowed French chef Sébastien Bras to give back the three-star rating at his restaurant, Le Suquet à Laguiole. At the time, Michelin spokesperson Claire Dorland Clauzel said, “It is difficult for us to have a restaurant in the guide which does not wish to be in it. It is the first time we have had a public withdrawal of this sort.” However, the decision didn’t stick: Bras’s restaurant appeared in the 2019 guide with two stars. Not including it, Michelin said in a statement, would go “against the rapport and trust” the guides have built with readers.
For Veyrat, and all the future chefs who will inevitably disavow their Michelin stars, there are just a few ways to disengage from Michelin-star pressure: serve food that’s less appealing to Michelin’s inspectors, close a restaurant entirely, or try not to get quite so worked up about it.
• ‘They said we used cheddar!’: chef demands removal from Michelin Guide [Guardian]
• « Ils ont osé dire qu’on avait mis du cheddar dans notre soufflé » : le chef Marc Veyrat ne veut plus être dans le guide Michelin [Le Monde]
• Marc Veyrat : « Je rends mes 2 étoiles Michelin » [Le Point]