It’s not everyday that you get to step away from your desk to unwind and enjoy a balanced, wholesome lunch.
Chloe Vichot is on a mission to change that with the opening of her new restaurant, Ancolie.
The concept is simple: thoughtful meals curated with seasonal, locally-sourced food. The best part? It all comes in reusable glass jars inviting New Yorkers to slow down, indulge responsibly, and enjoy every bite.
Born and raised in Paris, Vichot moved to New York 11 years ago to pursue a career in finance after graduating from business school. A decade later, she hit a milestone. 3, actually.
“I turned 30, and I got my green card, and I got married the same year.”
No longer linked to a company and hoping to eventually start a family, Vichot began thinking about a career change. Her thoughts quickly turned towards food.
But as the businesswoman and newly minted restaurateur will admit, this wasn’t much of a surprise.
“I did an interview for business school and they asked me, ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years?'” recalled Vichot. “And the first thing that came to mind was owning my own restaurant.”
Of course, that’s not what she answered or ended up doing… until now.
After taking several cooking classes the International Culinary Center, receiving a culinary management degree at the Institute of Culinary Education, and working at Eleven Madison Park, Vichot was finally ready to devote herself to the restaurant full-time, and Ancolie was born.
From the very beginning, Vichot knew she wanted it to revolve around lunch.
Nostalgic for the ritual and importance of this mid-day meal in her home country and unable to find a proper “plat du jour” like she could in Paris, Vichot set out to create a lunch spot that would dish out simple, delicious, wholesome, and convenient food.
She hopes to strike a balance between simplicity and substance so that “you don’t feel like you ate too much and you don’t feel that you need to eat a snack after two hours because you’re starving.”
Customers can expect to find traditional French flavors combined with an international flair – everything from yogurt parfaits and soba noodle bowls to lentil salads and mac and cheese (with a French twist, of course).
In fact, if it were up to Vichot, Ancolie would steer clear of the “healthy” restaurant category entirely in favor of a more balanced, “epicurean” sensibility — one that invites, or rather strongly encourages, customers to not only indulge, but to feel good about it.
“Here, people are either on a diet or they eat crap,” explained Vichot. “But it’s hard to find an in-between. I don’t eat salads everyday, and I need my dessert. But I know that if I eat in the right proportions, I feel good about what I’m having.”
Mirroring Pret a Manger, the restaurant will feature ready-made items on display when customers walk in. However, rather than traditional plastic or cardboard containers, Ancolie — which translates to a type of wildflower — will sell re-usable glass jars.
“I was always against all the waste and the packaging and the trash that came with lunch, but I didn’t really know how to address it,” explained Vichot. It was only after witnessing a similar, environmentally responsible model in Paris that the idea for custom and sustainable jars was born.
“[After] one trip in Paris last year, I saw it in 3 different places. I was like: This is it. I need to bring the jar to New York.”
With incentives for customers to re-use their jars, Ancolie will minimize its environmental footprint while fostering a more inviting and convivial atmosphere. Vichot hopes this will encourage busy New Yorkers to disconnect and actually take time to eat — something she promises “makes a huge difference.”
“It’s like drinking coffee out of a cardboard or plastic cup versus out of ceramic or china. It’s a totally different experience, and you want to take your time.”