Q&A With Ancolie Chef Chloe Vichot
Recently, the Mason jar has made a huge comeback for more than just crafts. I’ve noticed so many food and drink places serving up their dishes and drinks in super cool glass containers — and Ancolie in New York City is raising funds on Kickstarter, aiming to do that in the Big Apple. The unique sustainable concept is a mostly to-go restaurant serving all meals in custom glass jars, founded by Chef Chloe Vichot, a veteran of the finance industry who is taking the food world by storm.
Ancolie’s Kickstarter has reached its $20,000 goal and then some, with over $50,000 raised from over 400 backers! But with a little more than three days to go, the environmentally-conscious restaurant is still looking for support. The Kickstarter is offering really cool rewards like lunch for a week, sets of the restaurant’s custom-made glass jars (they are wide enough to eat from!), aprons, an invite to their launch party, and even an opportunity to name a dish and having a menu tasting party. So rad! Personally, I can’t wait to try Ancolie the next time I’m in NYC, my hometown, and it’s opening this fall near my alma mater NYU in Greenwich Village. Plus, after collecting 10 of Ancolie’s jars, you can bring them back to get a meal on the house. So cool!
Chloe was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about Ancolie’s journey from idea to Kickstarter success. Check it out below!
What is the inspiration behind Ancolie? Why glass jars?
I had two inspirations for the concept. One was being tired of always eating the same thing every day for lunch and not finding a meal I really wanted: something fresh, simple and delicious. The second part, was a solution for all the waste that comes with the typical lunch on the go. I was tired of throwing away foil, plastic and cardboard the moment I got back to my desk.
The glass jars were the perfect solution for both. They are re-usable. When you buy your salad/meal you will own the jar. You can either keep it and reuse it at home or bring it back to our store. If you bring 10 jars back, you will have a free meal.
Glass is also great to keep our salad crisp and perfect for warm meals. So overall I knew it would be a great packaging. Finally, the experience is much better and invites you to take your time and enjoy every bite. Like drinking coffee out of a china cup vs cardboard.
What has the journey been like for you, going from idea to Kickstarter crowdfunding?
Amazing!! It took me a while to be ready to do it. Almost 4 years from the moment, I knew I wanted to leave finance to today. I needed to take cooking classes, a management degree, work in a restaurant and get everything ready. I needed to be able to trust my judgment. Overall the experience has been amazing and the people I have met along the way really helped me.
The past month with Kickstarter has been the most rewarding. We have over 400 backers from around the world, some might never come to visit the restaurant but liked the idea and wanted to be part of the adventure. This is really great to see that all the hard work paid out at the end.
How does working in the food industry compare to your previous career in finance?
For now I have been more involved in the start up community and I love it!! I work in a shared co-working space close to Union Square called Spark Labs (http://spark-labs.co/) and I get a lot of feedback and ideas from the other members. A lot of the contacts I have today, from manufacturers to clients for catering events, came from there. What you need when you start a business is advice from people that understand what you are going through.
The same is true in the food industry. People take the time to talk to you and share their own experience. I am part of Journee (http://www.yourjournee.com/), a community of people in the food and beverage industry and I learned a lot from their members and the connections I gained there too.
Finally, I have two friends that used to work in finance and opened their own food business recently. They truly inspired me in my transition. Every time I have a question, I can pick up the phone and ask them, this is very reassuring. One of them is Michelle Puyane, who opened a great matcha bar in the village called Chalait (http://www.chalait.com/) and the other one is Sophie Roybon, who creates amazing treats in Brooklyn in her bakery called Caprices by Sophie (http://www.capricesbysophie.com/). I am very lucky to be surrounded by so many great people.
What was it like working in finance and going to culinary school at the same time
It was a lot of work, but I really needed to take that time to confirm this is what I wanted to do. At the end of the day it was really worth it.
What are your goals for Ancolie?
Make a difference. For our customer (have them enjoy amazing food), for our community (hire local people, give back) and for our environment (using jars and having a restaurant part of the Green Restaurant Association).
What are some of your favorite places to eat and hang out in New York City?
Coffee: Chalait and Maman
Simple quick dinner with friends: Malaparte
Fav salad: Shrimp salad from Mercer Kitchen
Dinner spots: Indochine, Charlie bird, Nomad and Eleven Madison Park (for special celebrations)
Fav bar: Library at Nomad and at Mercer
Latest cool restaurant to hang out: Le turtle (+ i love roasted chicken so love it!!)
Anything else you would like to add?
Our tagline is “the epicurean cantine” Having a balanced diet is very important to me. I hate having to count calories and people being either on a diet or binge eating. At Ancolie, we want you to become an epicurean and eat everything in moderation. We also want to become your cantine (the french spelling for canteen) and be here when you need a full meal, a coffee or a snack. I want to create a new community, almost like a family, mixing regulars and newcomers.
Images courtesy of Ancolie