Le Pain Quotidien is a Belgian bakery-restaurant serving simple, wholesome food for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Using organic and local ingredients whenever possible, the menu includes soups, salads, signature tartines, handmade organic bread, artisanal pastries and desserts. The reclaimed wood communal table, which serves as the centerpiece in every Le Pain Quotidien, brings rustic comfort to the atmosphere and invites the guest to relax over great food and good company.
How is Le Pain Quotidien changing the food system?
We’ve been committed to sourcing organic ingredients for over 18 years, and in so doing, we’ve pushed some of our suppliers to go organic as well. Every time we open a new restaurant, we create demand for more acres of land to be organically farmed. And with such a big footprint (we have over 230 restaurants globally), we have the amazing opportunity to raise awareness on organic issues among a wide audience.
What do you consider when sourcing ingredients for your menus for both LPQ and Le Botaniste?
Every ingredient should have a “clean bill of health”, it must be delicious and local, if possible, for freshness.
What is the significance of communal tables in your LPQ cafes?
It happened a bit by accident in the first LPQ in Brussels 26 years ago, but it quickly became the centerpiece of our restaurants. The communal table has a way of drawing people together, and for us, it became the symbol of sharing good food among good company. To this day, each Le Pain Quotidien around the world has a communal table made from rustic, reclaimed wood just like the first one all those years ago.
Tell us about Le Botaniste, your new vegan restaurant on the Upper East Side. Why did you start it? What are you trying to do?
Le Botaniste is an all organic and vegan concept. We only source seasonal ingredients with a very low carbon footprint, and we make our food from scratch every day in the kitchen. At Le Botaniste, we try to reconcile the planet, health, gastronomy and having a good time. Since we truly believe that the whole world should be “part time vegan”, we see Le Botaniste as a place everyone can enjoy – not just vegans.
How is it different from LPQ?
First of all, it’s 100% vegan whereas at Le Pain Quotidien, we have a more traditional menu, which is still focused on healthful, plant-based foods. With just one Le Botaniste location in New York, we are able to source more freely and have been able to commit to a 99% organic menu (the few exceptions being things like salt and seaweed). We’ve taken the concept of botanical eating, which is very much present at LPQ, to a different level. That “food as preventative medicine” comes out in the décor of the restaurant, which looks a bit like an old-fashioned apothecary and in our menu, which we call “prescriptions.”
What is one thing an average person can do to help change the food system?
Buy organic and local, preferably at a farm stand or farmers’ market, or grow your own seasonal produce and share it.
Where can we find more information about Le Pain Quotidien?
Brittany Barton is a contributing writer for Change Food and the creative behind SparkleKitchen.com. She offers real food recipes, sustainable living guidance and inspiration for others to become more sparkly versions of themselves.
The Change Food Fest “Growing the Good Food Movement” will take place in New York City on November 12 and 13, 2016. We will explore and celebrate change happening in the food system. Rather than simply talk about problems, we will actively look at solutions that are leading us to the sustainable food system we wish to see. Our focus will be on both real and visionary change and will include an exploration into seafood, plant based vs meat diets, possible impacts of new businesses and investment money coming into the food space – and much more. Join us – #CFFest2016! You can purchase a ticket or host a viewing party of the live webcast in your local community.