In a decision that will surely prove controversial with many, New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park has announced that the restaurant will be ditching all animal products when it reopens on June 10th.
The high-end dining spot has been a staple amongst affluent New Yorkers since it opened its doors for the first time in 1998 and has been missed by many since closing down due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
In the last week, the head chef and owner of Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm, has posted a notice to the restaurant’s website informing patrons of the overhauled menu, stating that the period of closure had led him to the realisation that ‘not only has the world changed, but we have changed as well’.
“We have always operated with sensitivity to the impact we have on our surroundings,” the announcement reads, “But it was becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways.”
“It was clear that after everything we all experienced this past year, we couldn’t open the same restaurant.”
“With that in mind, I’m excited to share that we’ve made the decision to serve a plant-based menu in which we do not use any animal products — every dish is made from vegetables, both from the earth and the sea, as well as fruits, legumes, fungi, grains, and so much more.”
With the ever-increasing popularity of vegan restaurants, it’s easy to underestimate the magnitude of this decision – after all, the number of vegan restaurants in the US has been on a steady rise over the last decade.
However, of the 132 restaurants around the world awarded three Michelin stars, not a single one serves an all-vegan menu – until now.
Humm went on to describe the efforts that the restaurant team are making to ensure that the new plant-based menu is as popular with Eleven Madison Park’s clientele as their previous selections.
“We’ve been working tirelessly to immerse ourselves in this cuisine. It’s been an incredible journey, a time of so much learning. We are continuing to work with local farms that we have deep connections to, and with ingredients known to us, but we have found new ways to prepare them and to bring them to life.”
“We asked ourselves: What are the most delicious aspects of our dishes, and how could we achieve the same level of flavor and texture without meat?
It’s crucial to us that no matter the ingredients, the dish must live up to some of my favorites of the past. It’s a tremendous challenge to create something as satisfying as the lavender honey glazed duck, or the butter poached lobster, recipes that we perfected.”
It’s clear from the statement that Humm hasn’t taken the decision lightly and that he has second-guessed his new menu on several occasions before making the announcement, describing experiences of being ‘up in the middle of the night’ and weighing up the risks of ‘abandoning’ the restaurant’s popular signature dishes.
However, he makes it clear that the decision is one that he ultimately stands by.
“It is time to redefine luxury as an experience that serves a higher purpose and maintains a genuine connection to the community. A restaurant experience is about more than what’s on the plate. We are thrilled to share the incredible possibilities of plant-based cuisine while deepening our connection to our homes: both our city and our planet.”
Eleven Madison Park isn’t the only Michelin-star restaurant that has switched gears since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, we reported on ‘World’s Best Restaurant’ Mirazur and how head chef Mauro Colagreco had decided to change the direction of the menu to work around the biodynamic planting calendar, calling the project ‘Universe Mirazur’.
Colagreco’s decision has since proved incredibly successful, with Mirazur continuing to impress diners from across the globe.
Here’s hoping that Daniel Humm and Eleven Madison Park can do the same as they bring their menu into a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly era!
Read More: Mirazur — Inside The World’s Best Restaurant