Meet Claire Vallée – Chef owner of Ona in Arès, France.

By disrupting the preconceived ideas of haute gastronomy, this Chef advocates for a committed, vegan cuisine. As the first fully vegan Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, it proves that pure veganism can be associated with a fine-dining experience.

Photo by Maxime Gautier

The self-taught chef, Claire Vallée, who is originally from Nancy, founded a gastronomic restaurant in Arès four years ago. ONA, which stands for Origine Non Animale — ‘animal free origins’, serves elevated, vegetable-forward dishes in a country famous for its dairy and meat centric cuisine.

This project was born out of being "fed up" with junk food, industrial food (animal and produce), and of course the refusal of animal exploitation. More than a fine-dining restaurant, ONA wants to be a place that respects humans, nature, and animals. The Michelin Guide, which rewarded ONA its first star this month, said in a recent statement that Ms. Vallée had given vegan cuisine its “letters of nobility.” It is the first time in history that the thick red bible of gastronomy awarded a fully vegan restaurant, a Michelin star. The Michelin Guide also awarded ONA for its commitment to innovative, plant-based dining with a Michelin `Green-Star’, reserved for restaurants that are committed to advocating a virtuous, sustainable approach to gastronomy.

Even though the restaurant is currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Claire is spreading her message and committed values to raise awareness of the dangers to the planet and to our health.

Welcome Claire to Chefs for Impact!

By Claire Vallée as told to Chefs for Impact

How would you define sustainable gastronomy?

"A responsible gastronomy is defined by the choice of products that we decide to put on our plates. It means working with local producers in order to avoid carbon impact and to bring the terroir to life while protecting animals.”

What led you to become a vegan?