From Haute Cuisine To Cause Celebre

It began as an ordinary visit. Just over two years ago, an inspector from the Office of Competition, Consumption & Repression of Fraud--or, simply, a consumer-protection man--arrived at Jean Bardet's restaurant in Tours to make sure that it didn't violate any sanitation statutes. Bardet has long been one of France's most esteemed chefs. His eponymous restaurant has had two stars in the Guide Michelin, the gastronome's bible, since 1985; with its adjoining hotel, it has been a member of the exclusive Relais & Chateau chain since 1989. Previous inspections had always been routine.

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