Vegan chef awarded 'maître restaurateur' title

Mainstream turned vegan chef wows with bio, lactose-free, gluten-free and most importantly, animal free, cooking

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Willy Berton is the first vegan chef to de designated the honour of the 'maître restaurateur' title after opening Vegan Gorilla in Nice.

The 30 table Vegan Gorilla describes itself as a ‘vegan, bio and gluten-free’ restaurant that uses organic, sustainable produce. The average lunch weighs in at €15 and the menu consists of an eclectic array of internationally influences dishes such as vegetable curry and mushroom kefta with couscous. Diners wanting something more typically French could opt for tartines avec ‘fauxmage’, also known as vegan cheese.

The ‘maître restaurateur’ title was created in 2007, and is awarded by local representatives on behalf of the French state, backed by the opinions of an independent judging committee. The awardee must be a professional chef by trade with professional experience, and must commit to using the best raw, fresh produce. The title is reviewed every four years.

A vegan for just two years, Mr Berton came up with the idea with his wife, also a longstanding herbivore.

He worked as a chef in mainstream restaurants for 20 years before switching to vegan cuisines, and describes his new venture as “more haute cuisine than snack, with a gastro atmosphere”.

Vegan Gorilla has 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor and is one of the better rated restaurants in Nice.

Figures for veganism in Europe are unavailable, but only 2% of the French population is estimated to be vegetarian, whereas the figure for the UK is cited as being as high as 10%.