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All hail ONA! The first vegan restaurant to receive a Michelin star

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By Buhle Mbonambi 1h ago Share this article: ShareTweetShareShareShareEmailShare The food world is celebrating Claire Vallée, whose five-year-old restaurant has made history after being the first vegan restaurant to earn a Michelin star. ONA, which Vallée runs launched in 2016, is a 100% plant-based restaurant in the city of Ares, near Bordeaux, France. ONA stands…

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published1h ago

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The food world is celebrating Claire Vallée, whose five-year-old restaurant has made history after being the first vegan restaurant to earn a Michelin star.

ONA, which Vallée runs launched in 2016, is a 100% plant-based restaurant in the city of Ares, near Bordeaux, France. ONA stands for Origine Non-Animale, which means “non-animal origin”.

The self-taught chef founded the restaurant as a response to the fast-paced food world. “ONA was born at the start of a “fed-up” of junk food, industrial food (animal and vegetable) and, of course, the refusal of animal exploitation in all its forms,” Vallée writes on the restaurant’s website.

“It is more than a gourmet restaurant; ONA wants to be a place of life where respect for people, nature and animals is at the centre of concerns.”

Claire Vallée. Picture: ONA Restaurant

Interestingly, the restaurant is a crowdfunding success. In 2016, Vallée launched a successful crowdfunding campaign and her supporters quickly helped her raise enough money to assist in opening the restaurant. She also got a loan from a “green” bank after failing to get funding from traditional banks, which didn’t understand plant-based cuisine and feared that it would not be a success.

A dish from the ONA restaurant. Picture: ONA

“It was a trip to Thailand that introduced me to vegan cuisine,” she told the online publication PrintEmps last year.

“I went there when I was thinking of opening a restaurant, and once there, I realised that food could have a very cleansing and healthy side.

“What I also noticed was that the portions of meat and fish were quite small on the plate compared to the broth served with it, the vegetables, the tofu, the herbs … Over time, I completely stopped eating it and developed a real taste for vegan cooking.”

ONA is famed for its signature dishes, which the Michelin Guide chose to highlight. In its statement about the food served at ONA, the notoriously strict food body said: “The beautifully dressed plates feature a splendid array of fruit and vegetables. Greatly deserving of the attention it is garnering.”

Vallee has always dreamed of ONA receiving a Michelin star one day and she has worked hard to make it happen. Picture ONA

ONA also won a green star, which rewards strong ethical practices in food sourcing.

ONA’s menu changes often.

“The main idea of ​​this concept is to discover new tastes (crunchy, raw, cooked, creamy, sour, crisp) and to let yourself be taken care of during your meal.

“We take the time to satisfy you, not only visually, but also with regard to smell and taste, thanks to a cuisine that is fresh, seasonal, organic and passionate!”

A dish from the ONA restaurant. Picture: ONA

Diners can expect to eat yellow zucchini ravioli, black truffle gnocchi, peas and beans in brine with barberry; Swiss chard ballotine with vegetable ricotta, candied lemon condiment and turmeric lace tuile and glazed carrot with passion, yuzu cream, almond financier and bergamot sorbet.

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