The Michelin Guide in France has Awarded its First Ever Michelin Star to a Vegan Restaurant

ONA in Ares near Bordeaux is the first restaurant to be awarded a star for serving only animal-free products.

Claire Vallee, the owner and chef, said after she’d got the call from Michelin:

‘It felt like I got hit by a train.’

She opened the restaurant in 2016 following a crowdfunding campaign as well as with a loan from a “green” bank: Le Nef.

Before Covid restrictions forced the restaurant to close the menu offered seven dishes on the gourmet menu including favourite combinations of pine, boletus mushroom and sake, or celery, tonka and amber ale.

Vallee said that traditional French banks weren’t interested when she asked for a loan to get started.

‘They said the outlook for veganism and plant-based food was too uncertain,’ she told AFP. Her choice of location for the restaurant in the Arcachon basin on the Atlantic coast was ‘not considered promising enough”

Vallee says she doesn’t hold a grudge, though: ‘Everybody does their job. It shows that nothing is impossible. I did wonder if we were good enough because vegetable-based cooking is difficult and innovative. The most important thing is to enjoy doing it.’

Vallee cited the late Jean-Christian Jury, who ran the Mano Verde restaurant in Berlin as an inspiration.