Lyon (dpa) - "Exceptional cuisine, worth a trip" - this is how the Michelin gastronomy guide describes a top restaurant with three stars. After more than half a century, "L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges" by the late kitchen pope Paul Bocuse will soon no longer be in the top gastronomic league and will only have two stars from the latest edition.

The food was still excellent, said Michelin on Friday. But after the test dinner of the inspectors of the gourmet bible last year, the restaurant was no longer at the level of the third star.

Bocuse died about two years ago at the age of 91 in his parent company. He was considered the incarnation of French cuisine. The gastronomy guide "Gault & Millau" called him "Chef of the Century". Employees addressed him in awe with "Monsieur Paul". The legendary gourmet temple of Bocuse, which has had the three-star label since 1965, is a pilgrimage destination for gourmets from all over the world.

This is a shock for the team at the traditional house. "Although we are shaken by the inspectors' judgment, there is one thing we hope we will never lose, and that is Monsieur Paul's soul," the restaurant responded. "Paul Bocuse was a visionary, a free person, a force of nature," it said. The head chef of the Élysé kitchens, Guillaume Gomez, also responded: "I know that you will continue to shine at the top of world gastronomy, as you have done for more than 55 years."

Bocuse was one of the representatives of «Nouvelle Cuisine», a movement of young cooks at the time who wanted to dedust French cuisine. Simple preparation, fresh ingredients, regionality - these were the basics. And Bocuse was a great show master, proudly wearing the tricolor collar and high chef's hat. He was one of the first chefs to have the courage to come out of the kitchen. For him, part of the big restaurant was celebrating food and drink.

The new restaurant guide Guide Michelin will appear on January 27th. The case is deep: Bocuse is still celebrated as a “myth” in the current edition and the “loyal elite brigade” of the gourmet temple near Lyon is specifically emphasized. Ten restaurants currently have three Michelin stars in Germany. Almost two weeks ago, one of them - the “Schwarzwaldstube” in Baiersbronn - burned down completely.

Since a change of boss, a new wind has been blowing in the “Guide rouge”, as the gourmet bible of the tire manufacturer Michelin is called in France. The new manager Gwendal Poullennec once told the newspaper "Le Monde" that the stars did not belong to the "chefs", as top chefs in France are called. He understood the team's emotions, Poullennec now responded. But two stars are the current value of the house - this is the result of the testers. "Michelin stars are not inherited, you have to earn them."

Poullennec and his testers don't stop at top houses. A year ago they deprived three top French restaurants of the top grade of three stars. It was not without noise. Because the "Maison des Bois" in the Alpine region of Savoy was among the downgraded high-class restaurants. The "farmer cook" Marc Veyrat, known for his wide-brimmed black hat, does not want to accept two stars and took the - very unusual - legal remedy against the gastronomy bible.

In the first instance, however, Veyrat failed in court. According to the natural chef, the Michelin critics wrongly believed that a soufflé with English cheddar cheese had been made in his house. It is now eagerly awaited how the “kitchen rebel” from the mountains will be rated in the new Michelin edition. He has a clear opinion on the downgrading of Bocuse's top restaurant: "It's like dethroning the Pope."

Veyrat at Franceinfo

Poullennec at BFMTV

Notice from the restaurant