“The food has to be great, and on top of that it’s vegan!” Pierre’s approach to veganism is by no means fanatical and he appreciates oysters and mussels from time to time. But he has embraced a vegan diet for the last 18 months following some years as a vegetarian and is fully supportive of a non-animal diet. But how did this adventure unfold?
Pierre’s background in finance, beginning with Audencia and then at Alstom, took him across the world from Malaysia to Switzerland to Vietnam and stood him in good stead for setting up Plant. Having travelled extensively through Asia and North America, he decided to return to the country of his birth (albeit only the first three months of his life) to follow his dream of setting up a restaurant. The menu is inspired not only from Brittany but also from the countries he worked and travelled in. Of course galettes are there, but so too are dim sum, burgers, nachos and bobotie – a typical South African dish, AND they’re vegan!
It’s been a year and a half since Pierre bought Plant and developed the vegan menu and welcoming ambiance. One of the biggest challenges was on the service side. While he focused his efforts on perfecting the food in the kitchen, the front of house interaction was tough to get right and Pierre invested time with his staff in building the kind of work culture he wanted to welcome customers. “I thought I was working without a boss, but it’s not true, I have hundreds of bosses every day!”
While the business wasn’t set up as a social enterprise, it has a notable impact, both environmentally through offering non-meat, fish or dairy dishes, and socially. Employees generally come from acutely challenging backgrounds, travelling sometimes two hours from their communities to the centre of Cape Town. Not all of them had schooling to enable them to read, speak English or be at ease with calculations and some also face significant poverty or domestic abuse. The social side of the business has developed with time and Pierre now arranges the transport for his staff to get to Plant. He trains those keen to work up from positions as cleaners to more skilled work as waiters and cooks and now has trained two chefs to work at the restaurant. His personal investment in his staff grew as he learned their situations and he has built a solid team keeping the restaurant up and running from morning until evening.
Thanks Pierre for welcoming us to your restaurant along with fellow Audencia alumni in Cape Town – the company was great, the food was delicious - here’s to the future growth and success of Plant!
Thank you to professor Jennifer Goodman for taking the time during her vacation to connect with alumni in Cape Town!