Gentle Gourmet Café is the first vegan restaurant to open in Paris in 2012 when the word “vegan” sounded quite new or unknown to most people. Created by Deborah Brown Pivain who arrived in France when she was 19 years old, Gentle Gourmet Café is her own special and unique way to support veganism and show people that you can be still able to prepare great food even if you choose not to use certain ingredients in the kitchen. Even French classics are proposed at Gentle Gourmet with a twist to show that taste is all there. On the menu some dishes are also gluten free – lucky me – and almost everything is organic, fair-trade and seasonal.
I went there on a Thursday for lunch, it was grey and rainy in Paris. So happy to find such beautiful colours on my dish! My main course was Le Croustillant – The Crusty: almond crusted tofu and Zaatar spices with vanilla sweet potatoes mousseline, toasted almonds and chives cream. Very good!
To try also another specialty at Gentle Gourmet: the Famous Burger! Basically the classic meat burger is replaced by some delicious marinated portobello mushroom, festive greens, a slice of Willmesburger vegan cheese, roasted vegetables and smoked herbs mayonnaise.
Mon “coup de coeur”, as they say it in French, was the dessert. I am a big “gourmande” so it comes all natural to me but this one, believe me, was AMAZING! “Red and Black” is basically a to-die-for velvety dark chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse infused with Kirsch, meringue, cherry sauce and cocoa tuiles. I was in awe!! Shall I say it out loud one more time that cooking vegan means no eggs, no butter, no cow milk…in this case not even gluten… and still this dessert was soft, airy and warm, smooth, an explosion of pure taste!! I asked to meet the pastry chef to congratulate with her!
And here she comes the talented Bérénice Leconte! Beautiful, young, and smart, Bérénice has started cooking vegan since last May…only!
She tells me that she studied as an engineer and she specialised in nutrition. Her mother transmitted her a big love for pastry so she decided to take a degree in pastry as well. Last Spring she passed an interview to work at Gentle Gourmet Café and the challenge for her was: make vegan macaroons. Bérénice loves challenges and in less than three weeks she succeeded in making them and got the job!
She also discovered to be intolerant to lactose, not that easy when you live in Paris! So even before working at Gentle Gourmet Café, Bérénice started to make for herself all those cakes and tarts she used to love.
Her secret to succeed?? Be creative and never stop trying, creating and then try again, over and over until you make it.
Today her challenge is make the vegan choux pastry. She has actually made it already but Bérénice cares to make it also gluten free and so good for everybody! Her desire is to make great tasting vegan and gluten free pastries so that everyone – no matter what his or her food issue or choices are – can enjoy it to the fullest. Thank you Bérénice !