03/09/1992 at 01:00 AM EST
SACRE CORDON BLEU! QUELLE FOOD FIGHT! IN ONE CORNER IS McDonald's, world's largest fast-food chain. In the other is Paul Bocuse, 66, France's most celebrated chef. Nobody knows the truffles he's seen.
The contretemps began when two of Bocuse's apprentices returned from vacation in Holland with a poster showing Bocuse and four other chefs beneath a cartoon bubble suggesting that the cooks had only Big Macs on their minds.
"Our names were clearly visible on our jackets," Bocuse fumes. "I will not tolerate McDonald's using my image to tout Big Macs!"
Bocuse discovered that a photo agency had, without his permission, sold his picture to a firm working on a Dutch ad campaign aimed at selling burgers to burghers. He complained, and McDonald's responded that not many people in Holland knew who he was. Showing that he isn't all toque and no action, Bocuse has sued for $2.7 million, alleging damage to his reputation. McDonald's has apologized and withdrawn the posters—and now it's in the hands of the lawyers.
As they say in France (well, sort of): Mercy, Bocuse.