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For the first time ever, a plant-based chef has won the title of ‘maître restaurateur’, for his restaurant Vegan Gorilla in France.
The eatery, in Nice, describes itself as ‘vegan, bio and gluten-free’. It uses organic and sustainable produce. Dishes include fishless fishermen’s stew, mushroom-based kefta over couscous, and strawberry cheesecake – as well as more traditional French-style meals like ‘fauxmage’ (vegan cheese) tartines.
The title ‘maître restaurateur’, which is reviewed every four years, is awarded to someone who is a professional chef by trade and has professional experience. The chef must work with fresh, raw produce. It is judged by an independent committee, then awarded by local representatives (on behalf of the French state).
In a post on Facebook Berton’s wife said: “In recent weeks, we waited with (a bit) of stress for the inspector who was to come and judge us – and with a lot of stress for the result!
“So we are absolutely delighted (and honored and very proud) to announce that my dear and loving husband has earned the title of maître.
“For those who do not know, this title rewards consistency, presentation and the use of local, fresh and homemade products. So you have a guarantee that no frozen or prepared foods are used – everything is homemade.”
Berton, who came up with the idea of the restaurant with his vegan wife, worked in mainstream restaurants for two decades before committing to cooking plant-based food.
The eatery, which he describes as ‘haute cuisine’ rather than ‘snack food’, has a rating of 4.5 on review site TripAdvisor – making it one of Nice’s more highly rated restaurants, with one reviewer saying: “We had a delicious dinner at this restaurant. The owners are very friendly and warm. The food is lovely. The decoration is beautiful.
“Overall a great experience and highly recommended.”