"Just as France lost leadership of the world fashion industry to Italy, we are now losing leadership in cuisine to more innovative countries like Spain," frets 50-year-old chef Marc Veyrat. The son of peasants from the French Alps, Veyrat is leading a one-man revolution to open up the stodgy temple of fine French cooking to new ideas.
For his sumptuous dishes, Veyrat combines products like lamb and truffles from local small farmers with exotic ingredients such as Szechuan pepper. He also uses wild herbs and roots: One dish combines farm eggs with lichen, cinnamon, cabbage, and nutmeg.
It's exotic but effective. Veyrat is the only chef this year to have been awarded six stars by the prestigious Guide Michelin. His flagship restaurant, L'Auberge de l'Eridan, on the shores of Lake Annecy, was once an inside secret for the likes of President Francois Mitterrand. Now, guests book weeks in advance to taste the dishes of France's most innovative chef.