The chef at home, former Top chef candidate, puts her knives in the IIe borough. She deploys her creativity and offers a cuisine that respects the planet and people.
Don’t look for soy sauce on the shelves of the open kitchen at Lago, an address freshly inaugurated by chef Chloé Charles in Paris. Do not imagine yourself tasting exotic fruits for dessert while sitting at this table d’hôtes. “I am not an extremist of locavorism, explains Chloé Charles, but I avoid buying products that have crossed the planet. I get my supplies as close as possible to Lago, even if I can push a little in Europe for certain fruits and vegetables. But no further. Oh yes ! I grant myself an exemption for spices or coffee.” Since her beginnings, Chloé Charles, 35, has stood out for her eco-responsible cooking. When asked about her motivations, she simply replies: “I live with my time. We had too long, in the kitchen, an attitude of rich kids. We kept only the best and we didn’t hesitate to put the rest in the trash. All this is no longer possible. And that’s not how I learned my trade. The chefs I’ve worked with have all taught me the art of not spoiling, because it’s also a more economical way to cook.” Naturally committed, Chloé Charles does not make her approach a crusade either. According to her, to cook in a reasoned way, you have to go at your own pace and have fun. Explanations.
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“Cooking is transforming matter. Using only a small part of it is a shame. It is a loss and it has a cost. It is therefore necessary to apprehend the products in another way. You can easily cook the heart of a cauliflower, but you can also have fun doing something funny and good with your ribs. It’s very fun to try to accommodate parts of a vegetable, meat, fish or fruit that we would have thrown away spontaneously. You just have to get started to get caught up in the game. My brioche cream the next day proves it!
“Consuming locally must once again become a reflex as far as possible. Shopping in local shops is a pleasure, we meet the shopkeepers. And when you can buy directly from the producers, it’s even better! Knowing those who grow vegetables, raise oxen, chickens… is fascinating. This completely changes his connection to food. We are no longer anonymous. This notion of proximity is also a return to the basics of French cuisine. Not so long ago we cooked with what we had around us. Just look at the traditional recipes to be convinced. Over the past sixty years, the world has changed, we believed that we could buy, without asking questions, products that have traveled thousands of kilometers, because they are impossible to cultivate in our climates and, without thinking about the impact of this gesture. Of course, that’s no longer possible.”
“There is no longer any need to make big demonstrations on this subject, and this goes hand in hand with local purchasing. But, all the same, it’s good to remember! Fruits and vegetables, in particular, are not the same according to the seasons. Buying tomatoes in winter means eating a product that comes from very far away… and of which we often do not know under what conditions it was grown.”
Combining delicacy and vegetal
“Without giving up meat, we must reduce its consumption. But eating less meat doesn’t mean chowing down on poorly seasoned quinoa with every meal! Vegetables and legumes can be extremely greedy, make you want to. I think my squash fritters, my seasonal vegetable tartlet, and my vegetable blanquette prove it… These are appetizing, tasty recipes that can be served as an aperitif, as a starter or as a main course. For example, for the blanquette, you immediately forget when you taste it that there is not a piece of veal in it!”
Invent new models
“Lago is a continuation of what my business has been for six years. I do events, consulting, private dinners… I love this variety. However, I realized that I also wanted to receive people. This is how the idea of Lago was born: a “not really open, not really closed” table d’hôtes. It is privatized for meals for a minimum of ten people. I never dreamed of having a restaurant: it’s too cumbersome to manage. So I thought about my career according to my desires, but also to developments in my profession. Today, it is difficult to find staff in restaurants, because working conditions no longer correspond to people’s aspirations. What I propose is an alternative in tune with the times, more suited to their expectations. From now on, I have a collaborator, I can welcome her properly and, also, guarantee her that she will be able to have a family life. For me, offering an eco-responsible kitchen is inseparable from rethinking a system by integrating a human dimension into it.”
Match recipes and plates
“My ambition not to waste in the kitchen goes hand in hand with a choice of old, vintage or family crockery, to serve my dishes. Why go buy new when you have so many things already produced, beautiful and still functional? To equip Lago, I therefore opted for second-hand and French craftsmanship. It’s totally consistent with my philosophy, and it’s also an aesthetic and an approach that can inspire my clients.”
spread the word
“I have always done volunteer work. Giving your time to defending causes and leading by example seems essential to me. I am part of the board of directors of L’École edible. In this context, I intervene in classes around themes related to “eating well”. The classic school curriculum does not train children at all in tastes and products. And, as a family, we only rarely pass on this knowledge from generation to generation. It is therefore important that the leaders take over. This handover is also inseparable from my vision of eco-responsible cooking.”
Lake, 25, rue Sedaine, 75011 Paris. Reservation from 10 people.