Flamboyant French chef Marc Veyrat has railed against Michelin, demanding that his top restaurant be withdrawn from the guide, after telling AFP that its inspectors claimed he had used English Cheddar cheese in his souffle.
Veyrat, who lost one of the maximum three stars for his La Maison des Bois restaurant in the French Alps in January, said the loss had plunged him into a six-month-long depression.
"How dare you take your chefs' health hostage?" he seethed in a blistering letter to the guide, regarded as the bible of haute cuisine.
Veyrat, 69, took particular umbrage at inspectors "daring to say that I put Cheddar in our souffle of (local) Reblochon, Beaufort and Tomme (cheeses).
"They have insulted my region," he told AFP on Wednesday. "My employees were furious.
"We only use the eggs from our own hens, the milk is from our own cows and we have two botanists out every morning collecting herbs," the horrified chef declared.
Veyrat, who made his name with his so-called "botanical" cooking, using wild herbs gathered around his restaurants in his native Haute Savoie region, denounced the "profound incompetence" of the guide's famously rigorous inspectors.
"You are impostors," he fumed, "who only want (to stir up) clashes for your own commercial reasons."
"We are pulling our restaurant out of the Michelin," he said.
But the iconic red guide said Thursday that it would not withdraw its listing, despite Veyrat travelling to the French capital to confront its editors face to face.
'I felt like an orphan'
"Michelin guide inspectors visit restaurants across the world anonymously. They pay their bills like every other customer," said its new director Gwendal Poullennec, who disputed a claim by Veyrat that the inspectors may not have eaten at his table.
The chef, who is instantly recognizable in France for his signature wide-brimmed black Savoyard hat, had also claimed that a new generation at the head of the guide were trying to make their names by attacking the pillars of French cuisine.
Veyrat -- who won back the top rating only last year -- was forced to give up cooking a decade ago after a serious skiing accident.
Then La Maison des Bois burned down four years ago as he tried to make a comeback.
But in 2018 he finally landed the coveted third star, the summit of culinary achievement, for the alpine establishment, declaring that he had felt "like an orphan when I wasn't in the Michelin".
A self-taught master who has spent most of his life cooking in his home village of Manigod 1,600 metres (5,200 feet) up the Alps near Annecy, Veyrat has twice been given the maximum 20 out of 20 score by the rival Gault Millau guide.