One of France’s top chefs whose food was served at the Paris climate conference was on Friday fined €100,000 (£73,000) for damaging the environment around his Alpine restaurant.
Marc Veyrat was among five top Gallic chefs who cooked up an “eco-menu” fit for the 150-odd heads of state gathered outside Paris earlier this monthto seal a historic climate deal.
French diplomats surmised that one of the reasons that previous attempts had failed was because the food was not good enough to inspire the negotiators.
Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, described the meal at the restaurant, situated in a nature reserve, as “a lunch that reflects environmental and French gastronomic excellence … without ostentation”.
But in an ironic ruling, a court in Annecy, south-eastern France, on Friday found Mr Veyrat guilty of cutting down 7,000 sq m (75,000 sq ft) of forest around his hotel-restaurant La Maison des Bois in Manigod, in Haute-Savoie, without authorisation and drying up 10,000 sq m of wetland making large parts of it “sterile”.
The court gave the revered 65-year-old – never without his trademark black Savoyard hat – three months to restore the damaged areas to their original state, in particular a bog that is waterlogged six months per year. If he does not comply with the court ruling within the time period, he will be forced to pay a €3,000 per day fine.
La Maison des Bois, a chalet-type hotel-restaurants whose rooms cost €520 to €1,250 per night, dramatically burned down in 2013 and Mr Veyrat has promised to reopen in some form by next summer.
Awarded the top three Michelin stars for two of his establishments and 20 out of 20 by Gault&Millault, Mr Veyrat is considered by some the world’s finest chef. He specialises in traditional dishes, with lots of wild herbs and a little “molecular gastronomy”, chemistry-inspired recipes that produce new textures such as emulsions in cuisine.
On his website, he insists his cuisine “takes into account the protection of the environment, our source of life”. But the local forestry commission said the environmental damage done in clearing land to build a children’s play area, a botanical garden, greenhouses and beehives had “rendered the land sterile in certain plots”.