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First vegan restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star in France

A vegan restaurant in the southwest of France has been awarded a Michelin star for the first time. “It felt like I was hit by a train.”

The restaurant organization Michelin has awarded a Michelin star for the first time to a restaurant that only serves vegan products. In addition to the classic Michelin star, owner and chef Claire Vallée also won the green star with her restaurant, an award that Michelin introduced last year to reward ethical and sustainable restaurants.

Vallee did not know what happened to her when she heard the news. “It felt like I was hit by a train,” she tells the French agency AFP. The French chef runs the vegan restaurant ONA, which stands for Origine Non Animale (non-animal origin, ed.), in the city of Ares, near Bordeaux.

Rejected by banks

She launched the restaurant in 2016 through crowdfunding and a loan from a green bank. Other French banks then turned their backs on her. “They called the prospects for veganism and plant foods too uncertain,” she says.

“This proves that nothing is impossible,” says Vallée. “I wondered if we were good enough. Cooking based on vegetables is difficult and innovative. ”

Closure by corona

ONA offered seven dishes on its gastronomic menu before Vallée had to close the restaurant due to the drastic measures taken by the French government in the fight against the corona virus. Her favorite combinations are pine, bolete mushroom and sake, or celery, tonka and amber beer.

Although now considered a pioneer of vegan cuisine in France, Vallée says she is simply following in the footsteps of other chefs, most notably the late Jean-Christian Jury, who ran the Mano Verde restaurant in Berlin.

Belgian star restaurants

Last week, Michelin also announced its list of star restaurants in Belgium. At the top is Hof Van Cleve by Peter Goossens with three stars, followed by Zilte by Viki Geunes, which, thanks to an extra star, also ended up with three stars.

Moreover, these Belgian restaurants also received their first star: Libertine, Willem Hiele, Melchior, Boo Raan, L’Envie, Le Pré des Oréades, Lettres Gourmandes, Bar Bulot, Attablez-vous and Le Pristine.

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