French chef vows to continue legal fight over lost Michelin star


Paris (AFP)

A French chef whose restaurant was demoted from three Michelin stars to two will continue his legal fight to force the restaurant guide to justify its decision, his lawyer said on Tuesday, despite having lost a previous court case.

Marc Veyrat will appeal because the court ruling in December "contained a number of debatable points which are not founded in law", his lawyer Emmanuel Ravanas told AFP.

The court in Nanterre, west of Paris, said Veyrat had offered no proof of any damage caused by the guide's demotion of his Maison des Bois in the Alps in January 2019.

The shock demotion came just 12 months after he won the third star, capping a remarkable comeback after years of personal struggles, with the showman chef accusing the Michelin inspectors of making a mistake.

He wanted the court to force Michelin to hand over its judging notes -- a ruling that could have opened the door to lawsuits from other disgruntled chefs and upended the world of fine dining.

Veyrat claimed he had suffered depression after losing the star and sought a symbolic one euro in damages, but the court said he had not provided any documented proof of losses.

Michelin's lawyer Richard Malka said the decision to appeal was "regrettable" adding: "We will show once more how inane Mr Veyrat's demands are."

Veyrat's return to the restaurant firmament in January last year came nine years after he was forced to stop cooking because of a skiing accident -- and three years after his restaurant was destroyed by fire.

After the demotion, he demanded a meeting with Michelin's international director Gwendal Poullennec, who had been appointed just a few months before the 2019 listings.

The chef said he was told a scallop's texture was "cottony" -- Veyrat says it was in fact a dish of local fish -- and accused of using English Cheddar cheese in a souffle.

After asking Michelin to remove his restaurant from the guide altogether -- which it refused -- Veyrat took them to court.

The self-taught Veyrat has spent most of his life cooking in his home village of Manigod in the Alps near Annecy.

In November, he was named one of the 10 immortals of haute cuisine by the rival French Gault & Millau guide, alongside legends like Alain Ducasse and Guy Savoy.

The showman chef, known as much for his black Savoyard hat as his "botanical" creations from local herbs and produce, had said before the court ruling that Michelin's accolades were not needed.