French chefs cooking sustainably


Food and Wine

Nicolas Faramaz / AdobeStock
© Nicolas Faramaz / AdobeStock

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 20 March 2024, updated on 24 May 2024

Respect for seasonality, commitment to small local producers, recycling of waste: more and more French chefs are inculcating an eco-responsible approach in their gastronomy and inventing a daring cuisine that is inspired by local produce and innovation. Here are seven chefs who have been awarded a green Michelin star in 2021-the true pinnacle of sustainable taste!

Fumiko and Anthony Laubert: along the Loire

She is Japanese, a nutritionist and pastry chef, he is the heir to a long French tradition of culinary professionals, and they're both passionate about farm products and wood-fired cooking. A couple inside and outside of the kitchen, Fumiko and Anthony Maubert create their menu every morning (asa is Japanese for "every morning") with their local products in their restaurant Assa in Blois, on the banks of the Loire. Pigs raised on a farm in the Loir-et-Cher region, geese from the vineyards of Bourgueil, cabbages from the market gardens of Fresnes, almost all their purchases are made within a 20-minute radius. The only exception is the Japanese condiments that enrich their produce inventory, such as the sobacha (buckwheat infusion) chips that combine a heady flavor of smoked apple with vine shoots!

Restaurant Assa, at Blois

Claire Vallée: a passion for all things vegan near the Arcachon Basin

She knew it was impossible, but she did it anyway! This statement summarizes the career of this intrepid chef–the first double Michelin-starred vegan chef in the world-who was daring enough to create her own brand to satiate her passion for vegan cuisine. Located in Arès, near the Arcachon Basin in Southwest France, ONA ("Origine Non Animale") is a true philosophy of life. Here you won’t find an ounce of meat or dairy, nor leather or fur products in the décor, but you will find a combination of wood, bulrush plants, and a terrace with more than 140 organic plants. Each menu, one new one per month, is created in the form of a sensory journey around organic seasonal products and powered with the imagination of a chef who likes to experiment with taste. You’ll savor a harmonious mix of the crunchy with the creamy, the raw with the cooked, the crispy with the tangy; evocative of memories of a childhood in the Drôme with journeys to Brittany. You’ll find the cuisine subtle and original and representative of her journey from an archaeologist to an organic chef!

Restaurant ONA, à Arès

Thierry Schwartz: 100% nature in Alsace

For nearly 20 years now, this former colleague of the late Joël Robuchon has been showcasing natural cuisine in his restaurant in Obernai. This approach is based upon a strong commitment to small local producers. A Knight of the Order of Agricultural Merit, Thierry Schwartz has helped conserve the geese industry in Alsace and his cuisine encourages the reintroduction of forgotten grains, vegetables and fruits. All based on seasonal produce and local production, for the most part biodynamic, his menus are a launching pad for new flavors; the chef has even created a fermentation chamber, where strawberries with a hint of olive, black garlic or dried mushrooms are made. The bread served in the restaurant is baked on the premises and the food and wine pairings are 100% organic and sulphur-free (more than 1200 labels), with an alcohol-free version made with home-made juices and sodas.

Restaurant Thierry Schwartz, at Obernai

Alain Perrillat-Mercerot: Savoie on a plate

From the lake to the plate! At the Atmosphères restaurant, perched above the Bourget Lake, peaceful contemplation of the tranquil waters that inspired French authors such as Stendhal or Lamartine won’t be enough to satisfy your appetite. You need a taste of the food, of course! An ardent admirer of the Savoyard terroir, chef Alain Perrillat-Mercerot gives pride of place to local fish such as pike, chub or lavaret in his menu. You’ll relish a locavore cuisine that also draws inspiration from the market-gardeners or cheese-makers of the Aix-les-Bains market and pairs perfectly with a wine list that is 60% regional wines from the Alps.

Restaurant Atmosphères, at Bourget-du-Lac

Florent Pietravalle: from the cellar to the roof, in Provence

At the locavore tables of La Mirande in Avignon, if you haven’t been able to unravel the secrets of chef Florent Pietravalle through his dishes, you will learn all there is to know about the origin of his products. After savoring his surprise menu, each guest receives a map of the region, detailing the names and location of the regional producers. In this beautiful private mansion next to the iconic Palais des Papes, the cuisine accentuates the flavours of the South, with potatoes from the Camargue, trout from Isle-sur-la-Sorgue or black truffles from Vaucluse. And for those wanting to experiment with unusual flavors: the chef grows aromatic herbs on the roof of the hotel and mushrooms in the cellar, fed by coffee grounds!

Restaurant La Mirande, at Avignon

Tugdual Debéthune: well-being the Breton way

Organic paintings…with seaweed adorning the walls, sofas and well-stocked libraries, Holen (meaning "salt" in Brittany) is a space inspired by the Danish word hygge, a mix of well-being and comfort and conviviality and most importantly it is also the new address of a chef who loves seasonality. No stocking of faraway produce here: Tugdual Debéthune makes his market rounds three times a week to source the laez teo (Breton fermented milk), organic flour for his homemade bread, vegetables grown in permaculture and fish that comes from coastal trawlers, far from any sort of intensive fishing. The result: pure and authentic dishes full of natural goodness.

Restaurant Holen, at Rennes

Laurent Cherchi: accentuating the terroir of Occitanie

It is no coincidence that he chose the obione as his signature. For Chef Laurent Cherchi, harvests this plant from the region’s lagoons to garnish his dishes himself, it is more than just a question of “local identity”. Committed to integrating gastronomy and nutrition through gluten-free menus with vegetarian or vegan versions, this young chef advocates the use of local products, sun-dried vegetables, wild plants–he also plucks samphires, thyme and rosemary-and Pyrenean meats such as the tirabuxio pork, Xia lamb or the signature beef of the mountains. Created without animal-based gelatin, gluten-free and low in sugar, his desserts invite guests to indulge, as does the restaurant's organic and bio-dynamic wine list, all of which are also winegrower’s wines.

Restaurant Reflet d’Obione, in Montpellier

Find out more:

In 2021, 33 chefs have been awarded a green Michelin star for their commitment to sustainable gastronomy, such as Jean-Michel Lorain at La Côte Saint-Jacques (2 Michelin stars) in Joigny (Burgundy Franche-Comté), Clément Guillemot at Choko Ona, in Espelette in the Basque Country, or Louis Rameau at Jardin de Berne in Lorgues in the Var. The complete list of these chefs is available on the Michelin guide website.

Also Read: Meeting with Claire Vallée, chef of the first starred vegan restaurant in the world

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