PARIS, Feb 5 — Marc Veyrat, the French celebrity chef at the centre of the “Cheddargate” scandal, has declared that he never wants a Michelin star for his new Paris restaurant.
The flamboyant cook who took the red guide to court last year after he lost his third Michelin star for his celebrated flagship restaurant in the French Alps, has taken over a historic Parisian dining room previously owned by the equally colourful French actor, Gerard Depardieu.
“I never want the Michelin (inspectors) in here,” Veyrat told AFP as he opened the Fontaine Gaillon in a former 17th-century mansion in the French capital.
Instead he insisted he wanted to “put stars in the eyes of his diners” with his inventive but convivial cuisine.
The chef, who is never without his black Savoyard hat, had lambasted “incompetent” Michelin inspectors who he said claimed that he had used English Cheddar cheese in a souffle instead of French Reblochon.
Veyrat lost his court battle against Michelin — although he is appealing.
And he still had the knives out for the gastronomic bible as he prepared some “virtual bread” made from mousse in his new establishment, where he said he will be cooking every “Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday”.
‘Who do they think they are?’
He accused the guide of not knowing what it was doing, and of a multitude of sins including having cosy relations with some chefs.
“Who do they take themselves for,” he declared.
“I have trained seven three-star chefs, 21 two-star ones and I don’t know how many who have one star.
“But they want to put us back in basic training as if we hadn’t 50 years of know-how and experience to draw upon?” he added.
But Veyrat, 69, said the shock of losing his third star for his Maison des Bois in Manigod was less than the pain he felt when the Michelin took the third star last week from the restaurant once run by the legendary Paul Bocuse near Lyon.
“One does not touch Paul Bocuse,” Veyrat said. By relegating his restaurant, the guide was attacking the essence of “French identity”, he claimed.
The man they called the “pope” of haute cuisine “opened restaurants all over the world, and trained so many chefs”, he insisted.
At the Fontaine Gaillon in Paris Veyrat said he would continue to cook the “botanical” creations which made his name, including scallops perfumed with wild hogweed and served with a puree of dates with a lemongrass emulsion for €48 (US$53).
Freshwater fish will also be on the menu flavoured with mountain herbs, using 60 different plants from a special herb garden.
Veyrat is also having fresh Savoyard cheeses, charcuterie, pine cones and butters driven straight to Paris from their producers.
“We will have dishes that speak of the forest, of mountain meadows and of Savoy cheeses. People need that, the natural and the real,” the chef added. — AFP