Willy is above all the first vegan Chef to have obtained the title of Maître-Restaurateur, a distinction that brings plant-based cuisine to the top. It is also a recognition of this new cuisine in the profession and a pride for the region of Nice where Willy is originally from. A success worthy of his work and his passion.
The Chef from father to son
Willy comes from a family of cooks. A profession passed down from father to son, which he embodies with pride.
After obtaining a CAP in cooking in 1997 as a Major, Willy joined the establishment where his father was then Sous-Chef and began to learn the trade.
After a few experiences in restaurants in Monaco, he stopped cooking in 2010 when his son was born. It was for him the opportunity to change profession and see something else.
But very quickly, the kitchen caught up with him. Two years later, it was at the ‘Stars & Bar’ that his new career began. In this restaurant, he offered a plant-based menu and worked on his first plant-based dishes. A new way of working was emerging for Willy.
Especially since at home, the family gradually reduced its consumption of meat, milk, cheese… and the various readings and above all the speech of Gary Yourosky, shifted the conscience. Willy became vegan. His life and his profession took on a whole new meaning.
Chef and Maître-Restaurateur
One evening in October 2015, Willy and his family dined at Vegan Gorilla and had a chat with the owners at the time who were considering selling the restaurant. Willy was looking for a business to take over. This was the perfect opportunity.
On May 14, 2016, Willy took over Vegan Gorilla and turned it into an organic, plant-based and gluten-free restaurant, just like him.
It is home to raw products from local producers, fruits and vegetables from the region, bread from an organic neighbourhood bakery, made by real artisans, 100% homemade dishes …
It is thanks to these quality efforts that Willy obtained the title of Maître-Restaurateur on May 17, 2017 (almost a year to the day after the opening of the restaurant). Encouraged by partners convinced by his cuisine, and because he met the selection criteria without knowing it, Willy was able to obtain this recognition which came to him without him really looking for it.
Advice from Chef to Chef
Willy imagines his dishes based on what he has learned. Like any Chef, his inspiration comes above all from what he knows. Moreover, he draws his inspiration mainly from social networks and follows classic gastronomy Instagram accounts. The main difference is that he is able to adapt traditional dishes in a plant-based version. But for this, he listens to his intuition and creativity.
For Top Chefs and a majority of the general public, plant-based cuisine remains an alternative cuisine. For Willy, mentalities can only change if there is real awareness and a sincere desire on the part of the Chefs to move in this direction.
To train the Chefs in this movement, Willy suggests that they observe what is happening. Vegan Chefs have taken the lead, they have a different way of seeing the profession and embody values that can respond to the food issues of tomorrow. It is now up to the Top Chefs to take the bandwagon and seriously tame this new cuisine.
But beware, if a Chef decides to try the plant-based adventure, it can only work if s/he understands vegan values. Forget the economic aspect, the stars, the honours… It is perhaps the obligatory passage to go towards this new form of cuisine.
Anyway, plant-based gastronomy must be worked on to appeal to everyone, and to get there, it must involve teamwork. A traditional Chef can thus surround himself with experts in plant-based cuisine to accompany him in his approach, explain the concepts, the fundamentals, test and approve … The key may indeed lie in the union and strength of these two worlds of gastronomy and we are only at the beginning of plant-based cuisine, so everything remains to be done.
Willy’s restaurant finally lives up to its name. The gorilla is indeed this large, discreet ape endowed with colossal physical strength. He walks in the shadows, slowly but surely, and one day for sure, the little gorilla will grow up!
Translated by Malvika Kathpal