At La Côte Saint-Jacques, Jean-Michel Lorain is proving that sustainability can be at the heart of a high-end hotel and dining experience. We visited the chef in Burgundy to get an insight into his ecological commitments and the association he founded.
To Jean-Michel Lorain protecting the environment is second nature. Together with his wife Karine and his team at La Côte Saint Jacques in Joigny, the two-Michelin-starred chef is committed to enacting positive change in light of the ecological challenges our world faces. Whether it’s supporting sustainable fishing practices or limiting the use of plastic in the hotel, kitchen and restaurant, La Côte Saint Jacques is proof that eco-conscious values and luxury hospitality can indeed go hand in hand.
Jean-Michel and Karine Lorain’s awareness of the critical state of our planet was awakened on one of their trips to Africa, a continent that the couple greatly appreciates for its natural beauty. While admiring the spectacular landscapes and wildlife of the African savanna, the Lorains realised that many of the animal species they saw were increasingly at risk of extinction. And so they decided it was time to stop looking on at the crisis and founded the environmental association Dessine-nous un Avenir.
“The aim of Dessine-nous un Avenir is to raise consciousness of the urgency of preserving the earth’s biodiversity, especially in our youngest guests,” explains Jean-Michel Lorain. “We want to sensibilise adults through their children, so that following generations can still get to marvel at tigers, elephants and rhinos.” Half of children’s restaurant consumptions are automatically donated to the association, as well as a percentage of purchases at the hotel’s in-house boutique. The donations are then split between two separate projects: Awely, an organisation working to protect endangered wildlife and help local communities, and Kalaweit, an organisation committed to saving gibbons and their habitat in Indonesia. To further reach the world, Dessine-nous un Avenir has launched a drawing contest, inviting young guests at La Côte Saint Jacques to draw their vision of the future and vote for their favourites on social media.
At La Côte Saint Jacques, Jean-Michel and Karine Lorain’s ecological commitments translate to concrete everyday actions without compromising the comfort of their guests. In the kitchen, Jean-Michel Lorain makes sure to source his seasonal ingredients from as locally as possible, preferably from the nearby organic vegetable patch that he has been keeping since 2018. This year, fruit trees have been added and the garden’s surface has been doubled in order to increase supply to his restaurant. In the wine cellar, a wide selection of biodynamic and natural wines is waiting to be paired with food creations in which ingredients such as responsibly-caught fish and flavour-bursting vegetables shine. At La Côte Saint Jacques, life is lived with gusto – and with a good ecological conscience.