Actually, though this is not widely publicised, Macéo has offered a vegetarian menu – with choice – since more or less the day we opened in 1997. Born from a simple wish to kick back against an ingrained discrimination prevalent in the upper echelons of French Culinary excellence, as well as more or less anywhere else you cared to look – excepting the brown food alleys that only people classified as desperate would seek out.
I wished the restaurant to do a SGJ -seriously good job – in the ‘alternative’ cuisine we offered our guests. To my mind it makes little sense to treat ones often charming, perfectly delightful vegetarian guests like second class citizens. At Macéo we eliminated the need to ask for ‘something special’ with the embarrassed look of a trouble maker. The ‘Vegetarian Option’ is small but important part of what we do. Quite well.
Back in 1997 with our first chef, this undertaking was a momentous struggle, similar to asking an architect to construct a Grand building without any structural materials. In the mind of Macéo’s otherwise very capable chef of that era, vegetables were simply garnish & respectable culinary creations necessarily depended on central, preferably noble ingredients, to be admitted onto a menu worthy of the name. Poulard de Bresse, Agneau de Sisteron, Homard de Bretagne…products worthy of a great chef. I resolutely stuck to my position, but I am forced to admit, being denied a satisfactory result back then. Patience can be a taste one acquires.
To the question ‘if it is French, can it be vegetarian?’ the answer seemed to be ‘Non’.
Thierry Bourbonnais has accepted this challenge with a very different approach since 2004, finding the notion hugely stimulating, embracing it rather than hoping the problem would be tossed into the proverbial stock pot. Our ‘Menu Vert‘ is now genuinely popular & not only when it offers black truffle & baby potatoes! It’s ongoing success can be measured in the number of menus ordered, or in the wide range of people who, sometimes surprisingly, choose this option, or simply by the effect of contamination it has had in our immediate vicinity. Thirteen years is a reasonable test of time.
Thierry has recently been working with the respected Nutritional & ‘Anti Age’ specialist, ElyaneLebre, concentrating still further on nutritional balance with culinary creations that notably increase wellbeing, which we see as the next frontier.
Do I need to add – without detracting from their ‘qualités gourmandes’ ?