A chef in France is suing the Michelin guide for downgrading his rating by a star, complaining that the prestigious guide sent inspectors so incompetent that they thought his "virtual scallops" were "real coquilles Saint-Jacques when they were made from a base of burbot livers from Lake Geneva"—and worse, thought his soufflé contained English cheddar. At a hearing Wednesday, a lawyer for chef Marc Veyrat spent 10 minutes defending the soufflé, telling the court it was made with French cheeses Reblochon, Beaufort, and Tomme and playing a video showing how it was prepared, CNN reports. Veyrat filed the lawsuit in January after La Maison des Bois, his restaurant in the French Alps, was downgraded from three Michelin stars—the guide's highest rating—to two.
Veyrat, who says the use of saffron may have led to "Cheddargate," is the first chef ever to sue the guide, the Guardian reports. He says he was "dishonored" by the downgrade and was depressed for eight months afterward. The chef wants Michelin to hand over the names of the inspectors involved in the review, as well as their notes and details on judging criteria. He is seeking a symbolic $1 in damages, while Michelin is countersuing for $30,000, calling the case "grotesque" and the chef a "diva." Veyrat wants "France to abandon the principle that restaurant critics should have the freedom to have an opinion because his restaurant has two stars rather than three" and "was judged to be just excellent rather than brilliant," an attorney for Michelin tells AFP. (Read more Michelin Guide stories.)