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Green Is The New Black

My Sustainability Journey: Caleigh Megless Schmidt, Entrepreneur And American Chef In Paris, Shares Her Story

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Caleigh Megless Schmidt outside Keili cafe

We recently caught up with Caleigh Megless Schmidt to hear more about her sustainability journey, the conscious resolutions she lives her life by, and what it’s like being an American chef in Paris trying to persuade Frenchies to eat more plants.

Born and raised in the States, Caleigh Megless Schmidt trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York before jumping across the pond to set up shop in Paris. Soon after arriving, her signature restaurant Keili (the phonetic pronunciation of her name) was born and she’s been encouraging customers to eat more vegan food ever since. Now a mother, she juggles entrepreneurial life with raising a tiny human and advocating for a greener planet. Respect.  We caught up with Caleigh to discover more about her personal sustainability journey.


10 Resolutions to level up your Conscious Journey

We caught up with Caleigh Megless Schmidt – entrepreneur, cafe owner, cookbook author, and all around inspirational human from KEÏLI – who shared 10 resolutions to help level up your conscious journey (and gave us an insight into what it's like being an American in Paris trying to persuade Frenchies to eat more plants!). Thanks to The R Collective, Cahana Jewelry, and CAVAL, she's also managed to nail that chic, yet sustainable, Parisian sense of style.

Posted by Green Is The New Black on Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Sustainability, to me, means…

For me, sustainability is about living an ethical lifestyle to find balance. To love and protect our planet, the fresh air, the clean water and pesticide-free vegetables.

I first started thinking about sustainability when…

I grew up on a farm in Virginia. We ate organic food. We had a garden. One of my earliest memories was pulling carrots from the dirt.

However, growing up in the States, I also had access to every food imaginable. There were no seasons in the grocery stores. We were and are still today completely spoiled; blueberries, tomatoes, kale, all year round. 

When I was in college, I started my own sustainable journey through books. I started hitchhiking, became vegan, and wore second-hand clothes. It wasn’t much, but I was trying to find my own ethically balanced lifestyle. 

When I opened my first restaurant KEÏLI with my business partner François Verez in Paris, there were new ethical challenges. We decided to create a menu that was primarily vegetarian in a very “carni” environment. We had to find responsible ways to deliver our food via bike. I had to be savvy in the kitchen to reduce waste by finding creative ways to use any leftovers. Today I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. It doesn’t mean there isn’t more to be done, but I think it’s important to celebrate the small steps. 


Caleigh Megless Schmidt wearing Cahana Jewellery

Caleigh wearing Cahana Jewellery; a sustainable jewellery brand founded by Danish designer Rikke Brogaard. As well as using recycled and natural materials to create its handmade collections, it also offers sustainable and organic packaging and employs zero waste and carbon neutral practices. Cahana Jewellery’s signature piece is affirmation lockets (pictured), each one containing a tiny scroll upon which a positive affirmation can be written and carried with you daily.

My hopes for the future are… 

As a mother of two girls, I hope that we can find a way as a whole to take care of our planet and that people will see the urgency of the current situation and help raise awareness.

Since becoming more aware of the climate crisis, I have… 

As a chef, I’m a big supporter of organic, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables. I spend a lot of time in my country house just outside of Paris where I cook and create a lot of my recipes. I buy all of my fruits, vegetables, eggs and bread locally. I love knowing where my food is coming from and actually set foot on the soil where it’s grown.


Caleigh Megless Schmidt wearing R Collective

Caleigh wears sustainable luxury fashion from The R Collective; a social impact clothing brand that uses upcycled garments from waste materials. Through using circular techniques and collaborating with sustainable fashion designers, it aims to reduce textile waste and pollution while making sustainable fashion mainstream in Asia.

My favourite Instagram account is…

I’m a big fan of @urbanmeisters, a green lifestyle community that makes sustainable living easy, fun and accessible. 

My sustainability hero is…

Mirela Orlovic, the founder of urban meisters because she’s authentic and a great teacher. She said: “In 2020 a woman should be two things, classy and concerned about climate change. Because sustainability is sexy. “


Caval trainers

Cute trainers from European sneaker brand, CAVAL. ‘Elegantly mismatched’, its shoes are made in Italy and built to last. Recently, it has started integrating new fabrics into its production, including recycled apple peel to create a leather-like fabric that’s eco-friendly, vegan and PETA-approved. It has also started introducing recycled rubber and recycled PU into trainer inserts and soles.

If I could change one thing about the world immediately, I would…

My grandparents lived in Antigua when I was young and I grew up visiting them on the island. Swimming in the ocean and playing on the natural beaches was a blissful part of my childhood. If I could change one thing, I would eliminate plastics to help clean up our oceans and preserve marine life.

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