Last week, when the flagship restaurant of the late, legendary French chef Paul Bocuse lost its third Michelin star, it made headlines at home and abroad. Now the furore has spilled over to the world of sport, as fans of the Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyonnais protested the dining guide’s decision in the stadium during a Coupe de la Ligue game on 21 January.
Located in the southeast of France near Lyon, in the town of Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or, Restaurant Paul Bocuse – formally known as L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges – has held a three-star rating since 1965, a world record. The demotion was such a shock that the Michelin boss visited the restaurant to deliver the news in person, explaining that the quality "remained excellent but no longer at the level of three stars," according to the Agence France-Presse.
A highly-decorated chef who championed nouvelle French cuisine, Bocuse passed away in 2018, at age 91. His restaurant received its first Michelin star in 1961, and four years later, it was bumped up to three, a rating that stuck for nearly four decades.
As ESPN’s Jonathan Johnson reports, the chef was a Lyon supporter, and his restaurant has historically provided the club’s meals during European competitions. Lyon president Jean-Michel Aula tweeted his support when the news first broke on 17 January, saying, "I associate myself with OL to loudly affirm our unconditional support for the formidable institution that Paul Bocuse has become. More than 100 official European Cup meals unanimously appreciated, as the next one will be against Juventus in February. #ILovePaulBocuse."
A few days later, the club’s fans registered their objections to the lost star in the stadium during Lyon’s win over Lille in the league cup, hoisting a banner that read, "Monsieur Paul, nobody will remove a single one of your stars. From the heart of the Lyon people."