Marc Veyrat, the 69 year old French chef of La Maison des Bois in Manigod, that lost the third Michelin star after just one year in January has said he is convinced that no Michelin inspector went to eat at the restaurant during the year in a damning interview he gave to Le Point.
The French chef spoke for the first time about his pain, his depression and thinking the worse since he was given the news abruptly on 20 January. He admitted thinking about committing suicide on several occasions.
“I’ve asked Michelin to show me the proof that they visited the restaurant last year by providing me with the receipts but they told me it would not be ethical. If Michelin had nothing to hide, why don’t they show the receipts. Let them do it and then we can talk,” he said ‘they treated me with arrogance’.
The French chef said he had not dared speak before but believes it is vital today. “I am uncomfortable with the turn of events at Michelin. Before they used to reward excellence, today they want sensationalism. They don’t judge the cooking any more but everything that revolves around it. In recent years, they’ve even been financed by several foreign countries to publish guides by tourist offices. Where is the independence? I worry about what will happen to our young chefs in France with this system that is no longer the original DNA of Michelin.
He said Michelin was completely detached from reality, losing speed, not selling many printed guides in France. “I’ve been told by my colleagues that I’ve paid the price for refusing to wear the Michelin jacket during the 2018 ceremony,” he said.
He said that he has been in a depression since January 20. “I feel like my parents have died a second time. You can imagine the shame I feel. I am the only chef in history to have landed a third star and lost it the following year. Every morning, I wake up with that in mind. I am exhausted, I have trouble sleeping, I hardly eat anymore, I cry, I feel sick. I had dark moments several times where I thought I wanted to join my friend Bernard Loiseau up there. My companion was scared, she hid my pills, my hunting rifles. If I’m still here, it’s thanks to her and the support of my four children.
He spoke of a meeting he had at Michelin’s headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt on 12 March with Gwendal Poullennec, the world director of Michelin guides, who was assisted by one of his collaborators.
Veyrat told Le Point he was given two reasons why he lost the third star. One was that he put a slice of cheddar cheese on a dish and the other that the scallops were not cooked well. “I was speechless,” he told Le Point “because the cheese was not cheddar and it is a very technical dish based on Beaufort that I use for one of my classic dishes and the other was the fact that the scallops are cooked inside the hull of the passion fruit so it cannot have a bad texture.”
“How can one be so incompetent? I realised I had an amateur in front of me. I got up to leave the room and he came to get me back when I was going to go through the office door,” he said.
He said that he will think about whether to return back the two stars or not over summer and take a decision in September.
Veyrat said the decision has not effected his business and turnover is up 10 per cent compared to the previous year.
He believes the cooking has remained the same. “The best reference point for me is the return of guests and professionals. They regular customers keep telling me that I am much stronger now than when I had three stars in Veyrier-du-Lac and Megève. My kitchen has never been so modern and creative. It is mineral, pastoral, biological, singular and especially rooted in its soil.