Eco-friendly dream for French chef

Chef Marc Veyant plans to create an ecological restaurant with a professional cooking school in a forest near Prague.

by: Sophie Pons:AFP | 02 Mar 2009

Renowned French chef Marc Veyrat is nurturing a new dream: to open a grand, eco-friendly restaurant in a forest near Prague to turn pork-gobbling Czechs into fans of organic and molecular cuisine.

"It's a project coming from the heart for the sake of a different, better life, organic food is the future," said the triple Michelin star holder, who also boasts one of the top scores in the Gault and Millau guide for his restaurant near Annecy in the French Alps.

The plan, still in discussion with potential investors, is to create an "ecological restaurant" with a professional cooking school.

The venue is expected to comprise a "molecular laboratory" to process fruits of the Czech forest; herbs, leaves, berries or mushrooms; using the most rarefied technique in contemporary cuisine.

The "Glade Pub", a temple of stone, wood and clay designed by a Czech expert on eco-friendly architecture, is expected to rise in a forest near Beroun, about 20 kilometers southwest of Prague.

Zdenek Moravec, who sells fruits and vegetables in an open-air market in Beroun's central square, does not hide his doubts.

"Organic cuisine? That's not going to work here, this is for rich countries like Germany and France, but for us it's way too expensive," muttered the man in his sixties. As for molecular cuisine, he had no idea what it might be.

Pubs in this region offer the same sort of dishes found in the rest of the country: hearty goulash, meat with gravy, and a variety of pork dishes with bread dumplings and mounds of sauerkraut.

And the fare is all washed down with litres of beer.

In the nearby capital of Prague, health food shops are starting to spring up, patronised largely by well-off clients; the sort seen in fitness clubs and trendy wine tastings.

But Zdenek Rajnis, the father of the "Glade Pub", is convinced that "there is a real audience of Czech gourmets" who would be drawn to the restaurant, alongside rich tourists who visit Prague.

In recent years, the former communist country has enjoyed an economic boom, the living standard has improved and luxury shops and fancy restaurants have cropped up throughout Prague.

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