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shocking to hear (provence)

Old Oct 21st, 2005, 07:45 AM
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shocking to hear (provence)

This is a favorite restaurant so makes it more shocking. Chariel lives in Maussane, guess we won't spot him walking along there!

Top French chef fobs off lamp oil as olive oil

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France, Oct 19 (AFP) - A top French chef at a Michelin two-star restaurant was judged guilty of fraud Wednesday for selling a blend of cheap Spanish olive oil and lamp oil under a label claiming the mixture came from a famous olive-growing region in France.

Jean-Andre Charial, owner and head chef of the prestigious Oustau de Baumaniere hotel-restaurant in Baux-de-Provence in southern France, was fined 15,000 euros by an appeals court.

The well-known chef purchased the inferior oil in Spain at 7.55 euros a litre, and -- after repackaged it as an "extra virgin" olive oil from Baux-en-Provence -- sold it to unsuspected patrons and tourists at nearly five times the price.


worse, a sample examined by government inspectors revealed that the bottles sold contained an unspecified quantity of lamp oil, which is unfit for human consumption.

Charial was acquitted from a charge of false advertising in an early proceeding in July 2004, but prosecutors appealed the decision, seeking a penalty fine of 37,000 euros.

Besides the two-star restaurant, Charial also runs a four-star hotel.


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cigalechanta is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 08:32 AM
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Terrible! Imagine what some in less stringently inspected restaurants and cafes or homes even, might try to get away with! I hope this is a discouragement to others who might try anything to say a centime!!
ick ick ick!
Scarlett is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 08:35 AM
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thanks for letting us know Mimi. That is shocking (and despicable) indeed!!
TexasAggie is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 08:51 AM
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If he in fact did that, that's worse than just fraud, since lamp oil contains toxic ingredients. See, e.g.,
cmt is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 09:13 AM
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Yum, lamp oil. I wonder how long it took for someone to notice?

AnselmAdorne is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 09:25 AM
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It is shocking, do you think he knew that there was lamp oil in the spanish oil he was buying? It would become not just fraud but criminal I would think. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 10:28 AM
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Mr. Chariel denies that he has ever sold this olive oil and claims to be a victim of this fraud himself. He is going to give notice of appeal.

Read the whole article here:
MyriamC is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 10:51 AM
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Wow, Mimi!
That is incredible! My daughter and I found our lunch at Oustau to be the highlight of our trip last summer. To think that anyone among that stiff-colored, dark-suited staff would do such a thing. Not only was it illegal, it was in bad taste! Mince alors!

PS I hope that you have dried out a bit after our recent local deluges. I missed meeting you at the Cambridge GTG. Hope that it went well!
letour is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 11:01 AM
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Was he also serving it in the restaurant? It's hard to believe that customers in such a place, particularly local customers who must be used to the tastes of the various incredibly high-quality olive oils of the region, wouldn't have noticed immediately!
StCirq is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 11:46 AM
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If you read the French-language link posted by MiriamC, then it becomes clear that the english-language AFP text posted by cigalechanta is misleading, to put it mildly.

This is clearly a licensing deal gone awry - while it's a cautionary tale for any famous chef looking to cash in on his/her name quickly, you should have no qualms about eating at Oustau.

The crazy part is that both press releases come from AFP!!!

Andre is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 11:51 AM
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I'd be very surprised if Charial was party to any kind of actual fraud.
Underhill is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 11:59 AM
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Does the lamp oil make it "extra light"???
Patrick is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 12:02 PM
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That's really odd about the two difference versions - but I'm inclined to go with the French release. I, too, would find it hard to believe Chariel would knowingly engage in anything like that. He doesn't need to!
StCirq is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 02:18 PM
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Patrick, you are such a wit =D> Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 03:26 PM
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I tend to agree that he is innocent. Chefs buy their olive oil in bulks for their kitchens. He may be innocent but maybe guilty by way of not checking his products. He has a very successful boutique in St Remy and also his line has been selling at the chains of Pierre Deux boutiques.
Latour, I loved lunch there a few times now and found it fabulous. I missed you at the GTG as well as Nikki but she did get to meet Pastis(the first person )
cigalechanta is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 03:53 PM
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he was found guilty by the court and it says he purchased the oil in spain.

a chef will always ensure the quality of the products he buys...that's one of the basics of the profession. even a decent unknown chef in a no-star restaurant will be able to judge the quality of an olive oil that he serves or sells in his business...and chefs are used to weeding out the rubbish from the cream of the crop when they procure food. it is difficult to imagine that a "top" chef like that (or any decent chef) was innocently duped like some would like to believe.

the fact that his restaurant is in one of the worst touristy villages of france does not help as it is clear most of his business would be tourists willing to pay a lot for local olive oil.

finally, the chef is a businessman first and a chef second.

nobody knows if he is guilty or innocent but for the above reasons, i don't see why he gets the benefit of the doubt after being proven guilty in a court of law.
walkinaround is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 04:16 PM
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I give him the benefit of doubt because I trust him as a chef first, and a poor trusting businessman second. I hope I'm right because this is a shocker.
cigalechanta is offline  
Old Oct 22nd, 2005, 12:24 AM
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the comment about businessman first chef second was literal...he was trained in business and didn't even start his chef career until 27...not damning in itself but business first, chef second. poor, trusting businessman, i think not.

if i bought oil in his restaurant i would expect it to be hand picked (by him or his close staff) from a trusted local source...and he would choose the best lot from the best source. i would even be surprised if he sold oil from a lower quality lot from a provincial source...but contaminated low quality spanish excuse.

anyway, i suspect he's done in the region...what he did is an afront to farmers...and we all know what french farmers can do when they are crossed. i would stay well away from his place.
walkinaround is offline  
Old Oct 22nd, 2005, 03:02 AM
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The most interesting thing is that the diners couldn't tell the difference. They must feel like fools now, paying all that money.
lmhornet is offline  
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