Guy Savoy, known as the “world’s best chef”, has been stripped of a star by the Michelin Guide.
Mr Savoy’s Paris restaurant, Monnaie de Paris, which overlooks the Seine, has held three stars since 2002.
But Michelin, considered the definitive guide of the world’s top restaurants, downgraded his establishment to two in its latest edition, which will be published on Monday.
In November, the 69 year-old was named the best chef in the world for the sixth year running by La Liste, which aggregates thousands of reviews from around the world.
Mr Savoy, who lent his voice to the French version of Pixar film “Ratatouille”, has received several honours, including the Prix du Rayonnement Gastronomique Français (French Influence Award for Gastronomy) in 2018.
“Up until now, I had only had the best moments in my career,” he told the French-Swiss language newspaper Le Temps.
“Tonight, I'm thinking of the teams and I'm going to talk to them tomorrow.
“We lost the match this year but we will win it back next year,” said Mr Savoy. His sister version of Monnaie de Paris is in Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas, which has two stars.
Michelin also stripped upmarket seafood eatery of Christopher Coutanceau in La Rochelle of its third star in the latest guide.
Gwendal Poullennec, the head of the guide, said: “These are exceptional restaurants, so you can imagine that these decisions are carefully considered, supported by numerous visits from our inspectors throughout the year.”
Reasons to downgrade a restaurant are not made public and are communicated only to the chefs involved.
“For such important decisions, we include not just French inspectors but also some from other countries,” said Mr Poullennec.
The move to downgrade restaurants is always hugely controversial, especially since the suicide 20 years ago of Bernard Loiseau, a close friend of Mr Savoy, after his restaurant lost a star.
Around 20 French restaurants have also been downgraded from two to one star in the latest edition of the guide.
It had not downgraded anyone since 2019, conscious of the difficulties caused by the pandemic.
Those difficulties have continued with restaurants facing staffing shortages and, in the last year, soaring prices.
But the guide said downgrades are now necessary if it is to stay relevant.
“Yes, there are challenges, but they are challenges for everyone,” said Mr Poullennec.
There were 2,817 Michelin Star restaurants in 2022, including several in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
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The Michelin Guide was founded by tyre manufacturers Andre and Edouard Michelin in 1900, when there were less than 3,000 cars on the roads in France.
The brothers created the guide, which included information like maps, car mechanics listings, hotels and petrol stations across France to spur demand.
The guide began to award stars to fine dining restaurants in 1926.
Initially offering just one star, the concept was expanded in 1931 to include one, two and three stars.
One star establishments represent a “very good restaurant in its category”. Two honour “excellent cooking, worth a detour” and three reward “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”.
In 2019, Marc Veyrat tried to sue Michelin after being stripped of his third star, saying he deserved an explanation.
“I have a lot of respect for Michelin in France … but they made a mistake in my case, and they need to recognise it,” he said.
He lost the case and said he never again wanted to see a Michelin inspector in his restaurants.