The ONA (Non-animal Origin) project started because of how fed up we were of seeing junk food, industrial food (animal and vegetable) everywhere and of our will to refuse animal exploitation in all its forms. More than a gourmet restaurant, ONA aims to be a place of life where respect for people, nature and animals is at the center of all concerns.
I chose to create a cuisine which reflects my character and values, avant-garde in a multitude of aspects. I believe in plants! For me, it is undoubtedly the cuisine of the future because it meets all our needs effectively: ecology, biology, ethics, human and health. With the ever increasing popularity of veganism and ethical eating, ONA invites its customers to engage and participate in its way of life. This plant-based approach raises awareness and disproves clichés and preconceived notions (lack of nutrients, tasteless cuisine, too expensive and intended for a certain audience only). It is a natural cuisine, elegant, refined and subtle, with an unrivaled range of flavors, textures and colors.
Pythagoras said: “The Earth gives abundant riches and peaceful food. It offers us meals that are not stained with blood or murder.” Like a painter’s palette, this cuisine allows you to develop your creativity endlessly, thanks to the varied tastes, scents, appearances, textures and colors present among the multitude of plant life on our planet (seeds, nuts, oil seeds, legumes, cereals, algae, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, aromatic herbs, spices, wild plants, flowers).
From the food source to the customer’s plate, this is the ONA Project: explorer of taste, of people and techniques, guardian of quality and ethics, a solution for a better world.
Founding Chef of the ONA Restaurant
The main idea of this concept is to discover new tastes (crunchy, raw, cooked, creamy, sour, crisp…) and to let yourself be taken care of during your meal. We take the time to satisfy you, not only visually, but also with regards to smell and taste, thanks to a cuisine that is fresh, seasonal, organic and passionate!
We are open from Wednesday to Sunday, with a different menu depending on when you visit us:
Lunch time Wednesday through Friday
Market Menu - 3 dishes for 24 EUR
Evenings Wednesday through Sunday and Saturday and Sunday lunchtime
Gourmet Menu – 7 dishes for 59 EUR
The Gourmet Menu changes every month and is available for consultation on our website, our Facebook page, and of course, in the restaurant.
THE ONA PROJECT
At the beginning, nothing seemed to be in my favor.
Indeed, many obstacles stood in my way! Being an archeologist by trade and a woman coming late to the cooking world, the idea of opening an organic and vegan restaurant in a little town like Arès, land of oysters and hunters, was considered sheer lunacy by some! I believe a touch of madness is necessary in order to embark on such an adventure. And luckily, I have it!
Having experienced several failures with traditional banks, I decided to launch a crowd funding campaign. It was a great success. Over 10 000 euros were collected and 126 contributors participated. At the same time, I obtained two “loans of honor”, including one dedicated to remarkable companies. Considering all this, NEF (an ethical and inclusive bank) granted me a loan and a benefactor added the sum necessary to buy the business/goodwill.
With a healthy dose of tenacity and determination, I finally had the keys to the premises on August 29th, 2016.
Premises are good, but you still have to fit them out! And this is where things get complicated… I did not have sufficient funds to get all the work done, and given the scale of the work to be done and the lack of resources, it was obvious that I could never open on time.
And then… a stroke of genius! I decided to put forward a “participative building site” via social media. Against all expectations, a real chain of human solidarity was created around my project. Painters, builders, electricians, plumbers, gardeners, friends, future customers, strangers, helping hands, local businesses (food donations) gave their time freely and without charge every day of the week without exception. The site was never empty! On the restaurant’s main wall, a tribute is paid to the crowd funders and all these workers, who we affectionately called the “Little Ants” (Petites Fourmis).
Overall, more than 80 volunteers took part in the ONA adventure! In under two months, on October22nd, 2016, my restaurant opened its doors.
Multiple interviews and reports in local and national magazines, such as Slowly Veggie (6 pages), Alternatives Végétariennes (4 pages), Le Nouvel Obs, Le Figaro, Bordeaux Madame, Sud Ouest Gourmand, Le Point, L'Express, Elle, Cheek Magazine, Slate, L’Equipe, Paris Match (1 page), Healthy Food, Côté Ouest/Côté Maison (8 pages), Esprit Veggie, Le Printemps (new online website).
In April 2018, Claire Vallée was also invited to the radio show “Circuits Courts”, hosted by Cyrielle Hariel on the French radio station Europe1. There was also a presentation of an appetizer recipe in Philippe Vandel’s show on Europe1 in April 2019, an invitation to François-Régis Gaudry’s radio show, “On va déguster” on France Inter in June 2020, where the restaurant was presented along with plant-based recipes (alongside Rodolphe Landemaine, owner of the Landemaine bakery in Paris).
Moreover, the restaurant appeared in several TV documentaries and reports: on the M6 channel’s news in August 2018, on NOA of the France3 channel in October 2018 and on M6’s Zone Interdite on November 4th 2018, as well as an 8min TV report at the end of June after the 12/45 on M6 entirely dedicated to ONA, and another for the TV show “L’info du Vrai” hosted by Yves Calvi on Canal+ in March 2020, about the food of the future, including the presentation of a recipe featuring one of the main products of the Odontella company: the Solmon.
Furthermore, in June 2018, ONA won two prizes in the Business Creator Challenge (Challenge Créateur / Repreneur d'entreprise) on the Arcachon basin (Bassin d’Arcachon), organized by Deba: the “Prix d’Or” (gold prize and first place) and the “Public’s choice” prize (10 000 EUR and various prizes related to communication media).
Claire Vallée has also met several well-known members of the gastronomic world (chefs, culinary critics…): Gilles Pudlowsky, following an article on his blog in May 2018, Alain Passard, Frederic Anton, Benallal Akrame, Thierry Marx, Gregory Coutanceau, Jean-Christian Jury, Pascal Garbe, Marc Veyrat, Michel Bras, Michel Sarran, Jean Cousseau, and Michel Trama.
Sirha TV invited her in January 2019 to a culinary demonstration on their TV set.
Claire Vallée was a speaker at a 3-day event, the “Traiteurs de France” (Grégory Coutanceau) in Nancy, end of March 2019, alongside Jean-Christian Jury and Florane Clouet.
In June 2019, ONA’s chef created a special appetizer for the “Etoiles d’Epicure” during the Epicurials, a prestigious but popular culinary event in Bordeaux.
She was also called upon to be a sponsor for the 2020 edition of the “Smmmile Festival” (September 2020) in Paris.
Additionally, Claire is in the process of writing a book including over 100 recipes, hints and tips, plant-based philosophy, the story behind her restaurant, the various partners and produces in the organic field, etc. It will be edited by a prestigious Parisian editor in 2021.
The famous guide Gault&Millau awarded ONA 2 toques and a grade of 13/20 only 6 months after the restaurant opened. The Michelin Guide made ONA the first vegan restaurant to enter the prestigious red guide when it awarded her 1 plate and 1 fork.