By Nicolas Gosselin
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This Monday, October 31, 2022 was a “somewhat special day” for Claire Valleeas she says in a video posted on social networks, where she announces the permanent closure of his ONA restaurantlocated at Ares (Gironde).
A brutal end for the establishment which had made the headlines of national and international newspapers in 2021, in particular the New York Timesafter having been the first vegan restaurant in the world to pick up a star at famous Michelin guide.
At the time, this native of Lorraine and a former doctoral student in archeology had seduced with her gastronomic menu at 59 euros, offering “about ten plates” with each “20 to 30 elements” (vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits, cereals, seeds, oilseeds, algae, plants, flowers, etc.).
A bet she brilliantly took up
The restaurateur, however, left a long way in 2016: after several refusals from the banks, she had to go through a crowdfunding campaign, call on an “ethical bank” and count on the solidarity of 80 volunteers who had put their hands in the dough. for two months to help him with the work.
“Reconciling sense and gastronomy was a daring bet, but I am recognized as having a hardworking and above all very obstinate nature. The dozens of bank appointments with negative feedback have never managed to discourage me, ”she wrote in a long message to announce the closure of her restaurant.
In the end, in a few years, she will have managed to build a solid clientele, as well as a good reputation, and to amass a number of awards (two “toques” at Gault et Millau; a “plate” at Michelin; one Michelin star and a “green star”).
“ONA is not dead”
The adventure therefore ends abruptly. The health crisis had put a first halt just after its first star. Then, Claire Vallée had to close her restaurant for a month and a half at the end of summer 2021. Finally, exhausted, she closed it again at the start of 2022. It never reopened.
“The restaurant will be closed, taken over and bought back to do something or other with it, she announced in a video this Monday, October 31, 2022, with tears in her eyes. We had great moments. But ONA is not dead. ONA is more than a restaurant, it’s a community. »
For the moment, the chef is concentrating on publishing a recipe book. But she does not rule out returning to the stove soon. “I want to pass on my passion again and again. ONA, it can be elsewhere, at another time. [Cette fermeture] it’s just the beginning of a beautiful and great adventure. »
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