Vegan chef awarded coveted French title

A vegan chef from France has become the first to be awarded the coveted title of ‘maître restauranteur’ for his vegan restaurant in Nice.

Willy Berton is the first vegan chef to be given the honour after impressing with his food which is free of animal products.

His restaurant — named Vegan Gorilla — is described as being a vegan, bio and gluten-free restaurant which is ethically-conscious and uses organic and sustainable produce. It serves a mix of both international and traditional French food options. The restaurant markets itself as having a high-brow, trendy atmosphere, with the best quality of cuisine.

The restaurant was the idea of Berton, who has been vegan for two years, and his long-term vegan wife. After 20 years of being a chef, it was only more recently that he decided to take the plunge into vegan food after seeing the gap in the market for a vegan chef in the area.

The ‘maître restauranteur’ title is awarded by local representatives on behalf of the French state to a professional chef with experience in the trade. A judging committee of independent experts and industry professionals decide on who to award the title to, but the overarching criteria is the chef’s commitment to using the best raw and fresh produce in their food. The food was first created in 2007 and is reviewed every four years.

France isn’t a country known for its veganism, with a large culture of meat-eating; it is thought that around 2% of the French population are vegan, much lower than other parts of the Western world.

That said, Pamela Anderson, former Baywatch star and more recently a fierce animal rights campaigner, recently announced the launch of her own pop up vegan restaurant in Southern France. The restaurant will trade for just 50 days, but will offer a 100% vegan menu and “offer lovers of the Côte d’Azur a gourmet, chic and romantic alternative,” according to the star’s website.

Additionally, the rise of vegan vineyards across the country is showing that the global trend towards consuming less animal products is taking hold in France too, with reports showing there are now five vegan-certified vineyards in France now, compared to none this time last year.

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