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Sacré bleu! Michelin strips third star from legendary Bocuse restaurant after 55 years

Posted January 18, 2020 8:03 a.m. EST

— Michelin has stripped the late legendary chef Paul Bocuse's flagship restaurant of one of its stars after 55 years of holding three, drawing anger from the world of fine French cuisine.

The restaurant, L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, on the outskirts of Lyon, said it had been downgraded to two stars by inspectors from Michelin's secretive culinary rating guide on Friday, just two years after Bocuse's death at the age of 91.

It's the latest controversy to hit Michelin, which has been criticized by European chefs who say the rating system is putting too much pressure on their staff and has too much power in the world of haute cuisine.

"10 days before the official release of the Michelin Guide and for the first time in its history, the famous Red Guide just announced that the Paul Bocuse Restaurant, rated 3 stars since 1965, was now rated two stars," the restaurant said in a statement on its website.

"It's been two years since Monsiuer Paul left us, and even if a star does not belong to a chef, we were all wondering what would happen to us," it said.

"Although upset by the inspectors' judgment, there is one thing that we never want to lose, it is the soul of Monsieur Paul."

In October 2019, the restaurant embarked on a project to create a new experience for diners, involving a menu that offered courses on the theme "Tradition in Movement."

"Paul Bocuse was a visionary, a free man, a force of nature, and it is in that spirit that we built the new experience since October 2019," the restaurant said.

Representatives for the Michelin Guide said the restaurant remained "excellent, but no longer at the level of three stars," according to Reuters.

The chef's Bocuse d'Or organization, which runs a famous "Olympic Games" for gastronomy, said it wished to provide its "unwavering support to 'Maison Bocuse.'"

French chefs have also been voicing their sympathy for the restaurant.

"Paul Bocuse was my friend and companion for 50 years. I am sad for the team that held the torches at Collonges," said renowned chef Georges Blanc.

In 2017, French chef Sébastien Bras requested to be left out of the next edition of the Michelin Guide blaming the unrelenting pressure on maintaining a fine dining kitchen.

More recently, in December 2019, Swedish cook Magnus Nilsson shuttered his two-Michelin-starred eatery Fäviken, citing tiredness and plans to dedicate more time to family.

There have been cases of chefs suing Michelin when they lose a star, and chefs suing Michelin when they gain one, of restauranteurs closing shop on old ventures and opening intentionally low-key locales, instead of lofty fine-dining hotspots.

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