Vegan Michelin Star chef Alexis Gauthier is perhaps best known for his classical French cuisine. But now he’s ditched meat for plant-based food at both his new cafe and renowned restaurant, Gauthier Soho.
Gauthier Soho used to serve a number of meat-heavy dishes, including the controversial foie gras. But it now boasts a completely plant-based menu, despite some initial pushback from a few of his previous customers.
“I say ‘trust me, what we are cooking is as good as that.’ Some people are up for it and some aren’t,” Gauthier told industry publication Big Hospitality in a recent interview.
“For the last five years at least all the creative effort has gone into vegan dishes,” he added. “There is no animal product in the restaurants whatsoever, not even in the chef’s pockets. I’m vegan myself. It would be unethical for me to profit from selling dead animals.”
Vegan Michelin Star food
Speaking to LIVEKINDLY, Gauthier explained: “I have always been a plant-focused chef, my upbringing in Avignon and my training in Monaco made that easy. But my vegan journey did not truly begin until we had foie gras protesters outside my restaurant in 2016.”
“This shocked me and made me look at my whole business and the ethics behind it,” he added. “I had an epiphany and realized that from that moment on I must work to phase out all profit from the abuse of animals. I became vegan myself soon after.”
The restaurant has since produced dishes including a “superb” cream truffle sauce, an aquafaba meringue, creme brulée, the faux gras terrine (made with lentils and walnuts), and even two of Gauthier Soho’s famous signature dishes: the Louis XV chocolate pudding and the black truffle risotto.
‘We need to cover all levels of cuisine’
Next, Gauthier is opening a plant-based cafe called 123 Vegan (or 123V). It’s located within the Fenwick department store on Bond Street, an area of London well-known for its wealth of luxury stores and restaurants.
The new cafeteria features a menu of “modern, fresh, plant-based food for everyone,” with flavors and influences ranging from Southern California to Mexico, Thailand, and the South of France.
He told Big Hospitality: “It’s certainly a more approachable offering and it’s very affordable for Mayfair. But it will be luxurious in its own way. For people to embrace plant-based we need to cover all levels of cuisine. We’ve wanted to do something at this level for a couple of years.”
Speaking to LIVEKINDLY, Gauthier explained: “123V is designed for the whole family to enjoy every day. It’s fun and accessible, as I understand that right now the world is not all vegan yet.”
“As well as some really exciting salads and bowls, and a prix fixe lunch menu of seasonal produce, I’ve focused on what we call ‘gateway dishes’ – designed to appeal to the non-vegan and open their eyes to how delicious plant-based food can be,” he continued.
“That’s why there’s things like hamburgers and quesadillas, guacamole and chickpea fries. These have been our most popular dishes!“
‘We need to leave them alone’
According to 123V, the new business is inspired by a “three-part message” that combines love for the planet, love for animals, and love for ourselves.
Speaking to Big Hospitality, Gauthier also commented on the rapidly growing global interest in vegan food — and an increasing awareness of the impact of animal products on health, the planet, and animals themselves.
He said: “More and more people are moving towards being fully vegan one day. They are aware that where we are at the moment is directly connected to us meddling with animals. I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again: we need to leave them alone.”
123V’s breakfast menu includes classics such as smashed avocado on toast, granola, and pancakes, alongside croissants, juice, and coffee.
Lunch features several snacks (including the customer favorite, chickpea fries), along with salads, three different broth bowls (red yuzu, huli-huli jackfruit, and smoked tofu), burgers, quesadillas, and desserts.
Lunchtime specials are also offered, including a Warm Pink Fir Potato Salad, Black Quinoa & Green Asparagus, and an oat milk sponge with dark chocolate ice cream. Customers can order two courses for £22 or three for £26.
123V’s covered outside terrace is open now, and the lower ground floor restaurant will launch next month on May 17th. Both are open from 9.30 am to 7 pm daily.