Understanding CheddarGate: Why a French Chef Is Suing the Michelin Guide

An explanation of the scandal rocking the culinary world.

In the culinary world, the Michelin Guide is serious business.

It's hard to even compare the value of a Michelin Guide ranking to any other industry award, as their clout is unprecedented. A movie that wins an Academy Award for "Best Picture," for instance, might get extra screenings which results in more box office profits, but practically, the honor mostly amounts to a pat on the back. Michelin stars, on the other hand, can change a restaurant's entire future. A Michelin-ranked restaurant sees a massive increase in bookings, with Michelin 3-star restaurants commonly booked many months in advance due to an influx of globe-trotting foodies.

Per the 2019 Michelin Guide, only 133 restaurants in the entire world currently hold a Michelin 3-star rating. Many chefs spend their entire careers aiming for a single Michelin star, only to fall short. Three stars is a life-changing honor, recognizing one's restaurant as the best-of-the-best.

So imagine the food world's horror when French chef Marc Veyrat, head of the (formerly) 3-star La Maison des Bois, announced a lawsuit against the Michelin Guide for deducting him a star. His claim: that the Michelin inspector mistook saffron for cheddar cheese.

"I put saffron in it, and the gentleman who came thought it was cheddar because it was yellow. That's what you call knowledge of a place? It's just crazy," said Veyrat.

Cheddargate Both cheese?


The situation may sound silly, but the notion of a Michelin inspector mistaking saffron for cheddar cheese is, indeed, the highest degree of food world scandal. Michelin inspectors are alleged to be some of the best food critics in the world. While their identities and individual qualifications are a closely held secret, a Michelin inspector job listing specified applicants must have an "extensive international knowledge of ingredients, culinary techniques, cuisines and culinary fundamentals," along with the ability to pass various taste and writing tests. Assuming one of them really did deduct a star due to mixing up cheddar and saffron, the entire integrity of the Michelin Guide could be thrown into question.

And while Veyrat's lawsuit could be written off as the tantrum of a jilted chef, his allegation actually seems to hold water. According to his lawyer, Veyrat only decided to sue after seeking clarification regarding his lost star from the Michelin Guide and being told that he had used cheddar in his cheese souffle. The problem? Veyrat doesn't use cheddar in any of his dishes.

Marc Veyrat Marc Veyrat, considered by some to be the best chef in the world


To be clear, if Veyrat actually did use cheddar in his souffle, that would actually warrant a lost star according to Michelin Guide standards, which tend to skew towards authentic, locally sourced ingredients and the dogmatic standards of French haute cuisine. But the chance that an internationally acclaimed French chef like Veyrat would even have cheddar in his kitchen is practically nil. For a chef of Veyrat's caliber, Michelin's assertion that he used cheddar in a locally sourced souffle is almost a more ludicrous insult than revoking one of his stars.

"It's worse than a wound. It's profoundly offensive. It gave me a depression. I saw my team cry. For me, this is irreparable," he said.

Veyrat's demand isn't to receive his lost star back either. Rather, he wants all three of his Michelin 3-star restaurants removed from the guide entirely.

The implications of Veyrat's lawsuit reflect extremely poorly on the Michelin Guide. Assuming the critic really did claim that Veyrat used cheddar, that means one of two things happened. Either the critic's palate was not refined enough to distinguish cheddar cheese from saffron, and thus they relied on color to make a dubious call, or the critic did not actually attend Le Maison des Bois and fabricated a review to cover themselves. Otherwise, it's hard to fathom how such a mistake could be made.

Saffron Cheddar?SHUTTERSTOCK / STOLYEVYCH YULIYA

The Michelin Guide has not denied Veyrat's claims, but instead suggested that he does not actually have evidence. "This path underscores the fact that he did not possess any elements at the time of his accusation, and still does not possess such elements to this day," it said.

That's all well and good, but it's hard to trust a food guide when you're not sure whether or not their critics can tell the difference between cheese and spice.

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Celebrate Endangered Species Day.

An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.


Of course, nature doesn't need saving—humans do—and climate change and environmental destruction are threats to humans as well as animals, but if you need a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world, check out these extraordinary species.



SPONSORED

Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!

Food & Drink

The Best Apps for Craft Beer Delivery

Try beers from all over the world–from your phone.

With breweries and distilleries out of business for the foreseeable future, your favorite beer may feel particularly out of reach this time of year, especially with the weather changing. But don't let quarantine suck all the fun out of summer. Luckily, thanks to technology, a lot of craft beer is now deliverable straight to your door step. Here are a few of the best apps to help make sure you stay up to date on the latest trendy brews.

Tavour

Tavour

Simplistic and elegant, Tavour allows users to easily fill up a box of beer over a period of time before shipping. The app offers more than 650 different breweries both local and national and is perfect for those who like to experiment. It's easy to use, and their menu rotates regularly so you and your beer never grow stale.

TapRM

TapRM

TapRM offers a wide range of both craft beers and hard seltzers. While based almost exclusively in New York City, the app offers fast, same day delivery from some of the best beer brands in the world. They also provide a unique selection of beers to help you find your new favorite. All you need to do is download the app and place your order!

Drizly

Offering a stark variety of craft beer, Drizly allows its users to mix and match 12-packs, sixers or by the bottle. Their guarantee is that they can have whatever you order delivered to your house in less than an hour. You can even schedule your delivery for a specific time, with each delivery taking around 20-40 minutes.

Saucey

Saucey takes delivery very seriously. When you order with them they guarantee that they'll deliver in 30-minutes or less, or they guarantee two day shipping. Also, beer aside, their entire liquor cabinet is also up for grabs. From tequila and whiksey, to vodka and wine, nothing is off the table for Saucey.

Beer Menus

BeerMenus

For those who enjoy strictly local beers, BeerMenus features a tap list from local bars and a broader stock list from your neighborhood beer store. With that, you can make sure to create a list of your favorite beers in your neighborhood, so that when they're in stock you can be ready to go.