Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or (France) (AFP)
The announcement was feared in the French capital of gastronomy and it has just fallen almost two years to the day after the disappearance of Paul Bocuse: his legendary restaurant on the banks of the Saône loses its third star, causing sadness and incomprehension.
"Monsieur Paul", the French "pope" of kitchens, has held these three stars since 1965 without interruption.
The information was revealed Thursday evening by Le Point before being confirmed overnight by the organizers of the Bocuse d'Or and then by the Michelin Guide itself, whose 2020 edition was not to be revealed until January 27.
For the guide, "the quality of the establishment remained excellent but more at the level of a three star". His boss, Gwendal Poullennec, went to the Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or establishment on Thursday to inform him of his decision.
"Although upset by the inspectors' judgment, there is one thing that we never want to lose, it is the soul of Mr. Paul", reacted in a press release the Bocuse family and the restaurant team who argue their modernization process.
- "Pathetic" -
Some critics already said well before the chef's death at 91 in 2018 that the Auberge du Pont de Collonges was no longer up to par and guides had classified him in the institution category, failing to note it.
But touching the monument of French cuisine, a year after the demotion of Savoyard chef Marc Veyrat - who has vigorously opposed this decision since - immediately began to be controversial.
In the Lyon region, sadness prevails while the capital of traditional French gastronomy no longer seems to smell of holiness at Michelin. Last year, two other institutions in the Lyon region were demoted by the Michelin Guide: Guy Lassausaie had lost his 2nd star and Pierre Orsi his only star.
President of the Bocuse d'Or, the world's largest chef competition launched in 1987 by Paul Bocuse, Olivier Ginon expressed "his sadness and his renewed respect for the work of Monsieur Paul".
"I am sad for the team that takes up the torch in Collonges", wrote on Twitter Georges Blanc, the three-star chef from Vonnas in Ain, whose rivalry with Bocuse was legendary.
Jean-François Mesplède, former director of the Red Guide, had proposed a few days ago in the Lyonnais daily Le Progrès "to create a gold star". "As (Bocuse) is out of the ranking, let's create a gold star and a category" Must see + ".
"It's dramatic, it's pathetic," thundered Europe 1 chef Marc Veyrat, known for his outspokenness, who accuses the guide's inspectors of ignoring the terroir and the products.
For food critic Périco Legasse, the Michelin guide committed "the irreparable". Faced with internet competition, the paper edition of the guide "is in free fall" and in search of the "media buzz", he joked on RTL.
- New look on the dishes -
The efforts to modernize the restaurant - "tradition in motion" as defined by the management teams of this institution - were therefore not enough.
"The chefs have worked and reworked the dishes. They have refined them for more than a year, making them evolve while retaining their DNA, their original taste", explained to the Progress Vincent Le Roux, general manager, a few days ago .
The presentation of the whole lobster wanted to be more contemporary, the lighter dumpling accompanied by a champagne sauce.
The restaurant has further expanded its team, which now has five best workers in France (MOF).
Major renovations are also nearing completion and the restaurant must reopen after three weeks of closure, on January 24, three days before the official release of the new guide.
"Monsieur Paul" defined himself as "a follower of traditional cuisine". "I like butter, cream, wine" and not "peas quartered", he said in "Paul Bocuse, Sacred Fire" (Ed. Glénat - 2005).
© 2020 AFP