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Famous Chef Says This Spice Cost Him a Michelin Star

France's Marc Veyrat says saffron fooled inspector into thinking pedestrian cheese was used
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2019 8:27 AM CDT
Marc Veyrat of La Maison des Bois speaks during a Michelin Guide ceremony in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, on Feb. 5, 2018.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

(Newser) – Marc Veyrat is world renowned, recognized for both his wild herb-based fare and his trademark look—a "wide-brimmed black Savoyard hat and smoke-tinted glasses," per the Guardian. What the 69-year-old French chef doesn't want to be known for, however, is losing a coveted star in the Michelin Guide, and he's suing to make the foodie authority explain why they took it from him. Veyrat's La Maison des Bois, nestled in the Haute Savoie region in the French Alps, went down to two stars from three earlier this year, and he says it's because he used saffron in a cheese souffle, which may have confused a Michelin inspector. "The gentleman who came thought it was cheddar because it was yellow," Veyrat told French Inter, claiming the inspector would have sniffed at the use of that cheese instead of fancier local varieties.

Veyrat, and supposedly his workers, are outraged at that insinuation. "They have insulted our region; my employees were furious," he said in July in a French publication, via the Washington Post, adding that the whole experience sent him into a depression for much of the time since. After unsuccessfully trying to get his eatery pulled from Michelin altogether, Veyrat's complaint is now demanding that Michelin provide paperwork that would explain the downgrade and prove inspectors tried his fare more than once. Michelin, for its part, notes in a statement that it "understands the disappointment for Mr. Veyrat, whose talent no one contests, even if we regret his unreasonable persistence with his accusations." It adds: "Our first duty is to tell consumers why we have changed our recommendation. We will carefully study his demands and respond calmly." A court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 27. (Read more Michelin stories.)

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