Situated in the heart of the West Village, the newly-opened cafe Ancolie serves as a reminder that sustainability never goes out of style. The shop’s founder Chloe Vichot has fused her love of cooking with her conscious upbringing abroad to create a space that celebrates and preserves an “epicurean” life - in other words; it’s all about keeping things in moderation. Be that as it may, we can’t quite contain our admiration for Chloe’s mission (and more importantly Ancolie’s delicious selection of salads and pastries which are served in reusable jars). We visited with the inspiring woman at the forefront of this movement to talk more about her inspired approach to food and Ancolie’s forever items.
From Wall Street to the West Village
My name is Chloe Vichot. I was born and raised in Paris, France and as you can probably imagine, food was, and still is, an integral part of my life. All of our family vacations revolved around our next meal. We would wake up in our country house to the smell of warm bread and after that debate what would be on the menu for the rest of the day.
After working on Wall Street for ten years, I decided to follow my heart and open my own restaurant. This is how Ancolie was born. It’s a coffee shop/salad place for busy New Yorkers located in the heart of Greenwich Village (58 West 8th Street). We offer delicious fresh food using local and seasonal ingredients always served in reusable glass jars.
Balance is essential. Ancolie’s tagline is "the Epicurean Cantine" and I picked the word “epicurean" to reflect that balance. I like to eat everything in moderation: meat, cake, veggies... When you come to our store, everything is portion controlled and delicious, so you don’t need to stress out about eating too much or making any excess.
Growing up in France clearly inspired my approach to food and the recipes I use in my store. We source our ingredients very carefully and put them at the center of our jars! My goal is to highlight one or two flavors rather than hide them in spices or sauces. At Ancolie less is more. For example, we serve an apple sauce made with delicious apples from the Union Square Market and a touch of nutmeg but no sugar, and it tastes delicious!
Of course, after having lived in NY for over ten years, my palate has evolved and opened to new cuisine I didn’t know before. Also, I understand what people are looking for: something easy and fast. For that, I think our jars (we serve all our meals in glass jars) are a perfect way to have a portable meal and be sustainable at the same time.
It is also beautiful which brings us to fashion. I think that before picking your meal, you need to eat with our eyes and find it attractive first. I think that fashion and design play an important role when I am creating a recipe to make sure it looks as amazing as it tastes!
I grew up exposed to sustainability in general and how it relates to food without even realizing it. We would go to our local markets and buy what we needed for the next few days according to what was available. Also, we had this tradition in my family to celebrate every ingredient when we would eat them for the first time of the year by making a wish. For example, when we ate the first strawberries or cherries in the summer we had to make a wish! My parents also taught us to always finish our plate, so we were not wasting food. This was applied to everything - for example water. From a very young age, my parents told me to shut off the water while I was brushing my teeth to save water…
I think that I only realized how different and sustainable my childhood was when I first moved here. The thing that shocked me the most was the waste that came with a to-go lunch and all of the packaging that was thrown away the minute you arrive at your desk to eat your meal. This had such a big impact on me that I decided to create a concept that will fight against it.
I realized that we could all make a difference and small efforts made jointly can be huge. This is true for all industries, including fashion. It can start as small as not taking a bag when you go shopping and putting your purchases in your purse, or not taking a receipt. If you multiply this by every transaction made daily around the globe, it can go very fast and result in gigantic savings of plastic and paper!
An Epicurean Life
Ancolie hasn’t changed that much since we only opened five months ago, but I have learned a lot. What I realized is that people don't always care about sustainability, but if you can show them that the experience is amazing because the food is great and it looks different (and in addition, they are doing the right thing by avoiding waste) then they are happy about it. So I need to change the way I advertise our concept and focus more on the food - the eco-friendliness comes as a nice cherry on the cake!
It’s true that we love our jars at Ancolie. Right now, my favorite is the Rainbow Jar, a multicolor salad with cabbage, carrots, quinoa, and lettuce. The dressing, infused with miso, is super refreshing and I love how when you shake your jar it gets mixed with all the ingredients that were beautifully layered seconds before and becomes such a delicious meal! Also, our apple sauce (we call it a “compote” in French) is my favorite snack ever.
I would like to inspire more people to ban disposable packaging and use their own jars, cups, water bottles and bags daily. Together we can make a difference and reduce the amount of waste by not creating it! To do that, I hope more people will hear about our efforts and come and visit our store.
Photos by Bridget Badore for Coclico