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French Chef Loses Lawsuit Over Michelin Downgrade

Marc Veyrat sued the dining guide for dropping La Maison des Bois from three to two stars and claiming it put cheddar cheese in its souffle

A man, Marc Veyrat, speaks into a microphone wearing a black wide-brimmed hat and black-and-white checked scarf
Marc Veyrat
Frederic Stevens/Getty Images

The verdict is in: although putting cheddar in a French souffle may be a punishable offense to some, mistakenly accusing a fine dining restaurant of making that error is not — at least in the eyes of a French court. On Tuesday, French chef Marc Veyrat lost the lawsuit he filed against Michelin after the dining guide downgraded his restaurant La Maison des Bois from three to two stars, the New York Times reports.

In September, Veyrat sued Michelin for falsely claiming that his restaurant’s souffle contained cheddar cheese in its two-star entry in the Michelin guide to France. (The previous year, Veyrat’s restaurant earned the guide’s highest rating: three stars.) According to Veyrat, the error raised doubts about the competence of Michelin’s inspectors and questions around whether an inspector visited his restaurant at all. Michelin denied both the error and Veyrat’s accusations.

The primary goal of the lawsuit was to force Michelin to produce documents, like restaurant receipts and critic notes, to prove that an inspector had dined at La Maison des Bois and “to clarify the exact reasons” behind Michelin’s two-star rating, the Guardian reported. Veyrat was seeking just one euro in damages.

But in court on Tuesday, Veyrat was denied that victory after failing to prove that being demoted in the Michelin guide had any effect on his restaurant’s business. In fact, Veyrat told Agence-France Presse that La Maison des Bois had never been busier. Michelin, meanwhile, is demanding €30,000 (or around $34,000) in damages and compensation over the suit, according to CNN.

Veyrat may have been the first chef to sue Michelin over his rating, but he’s not the last. In November, South Korean chef Eo Yun-gwon sued Michelin over the “insult” of being included in the Michelin guide after asking to be left out (insult is a crime in South Korean law). Eo’s Ristorante Eo had been downgraded to the “Michelin Plate” section of the guide and like Veyrat, he believed the guidebook’s inspectors were ill-equipped to properly evaluate his restaurant.

For years now, chefs have publicly requested that Michelin take back stars awarded to their restaurants, and Michelin consistently refuses those requests. But Veyrat, despite losing his lawsuit, will continue to denounce the guides. “I don’t want to be part of the Michelin Guide anymore,” he said to the Times. “I don’t want to have to deal with these people. They are bad, bad, bad.”

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