PARIS: One of France's top chefs, whose food was served at the Paris climate conference, has been fined 100,000 ($161,500) for damaging the environment around his Alpine restaurant.
Marc Veyrat was among five chefs who cooked an "eco-menu" for the 150-odd heads of state gathered to seal a historic climate deal.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius described the meal, served at a restaurant in a nature reserve, as "a lunch that reflects environmental and French gastronomic excellence".
But a court in Annecy, southeastern France, yesterday found Veyrat guilty of cutting down 7000sq m of forest around his hotel-restaurant, La Maison des Bois in Manigod, Haute-Savoie, without authorisation and drying up 10,000sq m of wetland. The court gave the 65-year-old three months to restore the damaged areas, in particular a bog that is waterlogged six months a year. If he does not meet the deadline, he will be fined a further 3000 a day until he has complied.
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La Maison des Bois, a chalet-style hotel-restaurant where rooms cost 520 to 1250 a night, burned down in 2013 and Veyrat has promised to reopen by next summer.
Awarded the highest rating of three Michelin stars for two of his establishments, Veyrat is considered by some to be the world's finest chef. He specialises in traditional dishes, using wild herbs and a little Heston Blumenthal-style "molecular gastronomy". He insists his cuisine "takes into account the protection of the environment, our source of life".
But the forestry commission said damage done in clearing land for a children's play area, a botanical garden, greenhouses and beehives had "rendered the land sterile in certain plots".
In court, Veyrat said he was "sorry for everything that's happened". He said that his "fundamental errors" had been carried out "in good faith".