French police are to question Michelin-starred French chef Guy Martin after a woman accused him of raping her during a business meeting in 2015.
The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed on Tuesday that a preliminary investigation had been opened into the allegations, which Martin has strongly denied.
Florence Châtelet Sanchez was interviewed by police for four hours on Friday during which she accused Martin, 63, of “rape and sexual aggression” during a professional meeting at his restaurant Le Grand Véfour near the Palais Royal in central Paris in February 2015.
Châtelet Sanchez, founder and president of By Dehesa, a company supplying high-quality gastronomic products to several Paris restaurants, told officers Martin had attacked her in a private room on an upper floor of the restaurant.
Her lawyer Vanessa Zencker told Libération newspaper that Châtelet Sanchez had not reported the alleged attack before because she had been in “a long period of denial”. She had been encouraged to go to police following the #MeToo movement, Zencker added.
Martin said he was “formally contesting” the accusations that Châtelet Sanchez first made in a magazine in September when the chef tweeted that the claims were “without any foundation whatsoever”. On Wednesday, he said he had not been informed of the legal action and would not comment.
Police will now carry out a preliminary investigation to establish if there is enough evidence to bring a case. If they find there is, the inquiry will be handed over to an investigating magistrate and Martin could be mis en examen, the nearest thing in French law to being charged.
Martin, who is self-taught, began his career as a pizzaiolo at the age of 17 and received his first Michelin star only six months after he began working as a gastronomic chef. He became head chef at the then three-star Le Grand Véfour in 1991. In 2008 the restaurant lost one of its Michelin stars. He became owner of the restaurant in 2011.
Martin is also well known to television viewers as presenter of a series Épicerie Fine (fine foods) where he travelled across France meeting farmers and food producers to discover the origins of their products.