PARIS (Reuters) - A French chef who said he had contemplated suicide after the prestigious Michelin guide removed one of his restaurant’s stars on Tuesday lost a legal attempt to force the guide’s inspectors to justify their decision.
Marc Veyrat, 69, took the Michelin Guide to court in September demanding that it explain why it had stripped him of one of his three stars a year after awarding it.
He had said the only explanation he had been given was that he had used English cheddar in a souffle, instead of traditional French cheese - an accusation he said was false.
But a court in Nanterre, on the outskirts of Paris, rejected his request.
“This decision enshrines the freedom to criticise and enshrines the fact that his grievances were imaginary and unfounded,” said Richard Malka, the lawyer representing the Michelin Guide.
Reached by telephone, Veyrat described the court ruling as nonsense, and said he wanted his restaurant expunged from the Michelin Guide altogether.
“They offended me, I’ve had enough,” he told Reuters.
Veyrat said the Michelin inspectors should have known better than to think that his restaurant in the French Alps, would use English cheddar. “We’re not in London,” he said.
Well known in France for his trademark Fedora hat, he runs the Maison des Bois restaurant.
He has previously said that since the restaurant lost one of its stars he has struggled to sleep, and his partner has to hide his hunting rifles, fearing that he may try to harm himself.
“Can you imagine the sense of shame I feel? I am the first chef in history to have won a star and lost it the next year,” Veyrat said in an interview with French media outlet Le Point in July.
“Every morning, I wake up with that in my head. I’m at the end of my tether, I struggle to sleep, I hardly eat any more ... I’m on medication. I’ve had dark thoughts.”
In his court case, the chef asked the Michelin Guide to prove its inspectors had gone to his restaurant and to show they were qualified to pass judgment.
The guide said it could not comply because to do so would mean revealing its inspectors’ identity, and they would therefore no longer be able to inspect restaurants incognito.
Additional reporting by Matthieu Protard; Writing by Maya Nikolaeva and Christian Lowel Editing by Angus MacSwan