Eleven Madison Park, the upscale three-Michelin-star restaurant helmed by Daniel Humm, is reopening its doors with a 100% vegan menu. Famous for its meat-centric American fine dining cuisine, the decision to go completely plant-based was a “risk worth taking” as it becomes increasingly clear amid the pandemic that the current food system is “simply not sustainable”.
One of the most famous restaurants in Manhattan, New York has decided to reopen after Covid-19 closures with a brand new 100% plant-based menu. Shunning all animal-based products like meat, dairy and eggs – which used to feature heavily in its American-style dishes – Eleven Madison Park will now put vegetables, fruits, legumes, fungi and “so much more” in all their glory.
“We have always operated with sensitivity to the impact we have on our surroundings, but it was becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways,” wrote Daniel Humm, owner of the three Michelin-starred establishment, in a statement on the front page of the restaurant’s website.
“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 product.”
We have always operated with sensitivity to the impact we have on our surroundings, but it was becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways.Daniel Humm, Chef & Owner, Eleven Madison Park
In the impassioned letter, Humm said that developing Eleven Madison Park’s new menu has been an “incredible journey, a time of so much learning.”
“I find myself most moved and inspired by dishes that center impeccably-prepared vegetables, and have naturally gravitated towards a more plant-based diet. This decision was inspired by the challenge to get to know our ingredients more deeply.”
While the restaurateur is still nervous about the “risk we’re taking abandoning dishes that once defined us”, the creative process of “reinventing” his original meat-laden fine dining dishes has solidified his belief that “this is a risk worth taking”.
The move by Eleven Madison Park could make it one of the most high-end restaurants in the world to ditch animal products entirely for a vegan menu, though plant-based menu revamps have been rising in popularity across foodservice in response to consumer demand and rising awareness about food sustainability. Animal-based foods represent the most carbon and resource-intensive in the system, with the livestock sector alone being the world’s largest user of land and drives nearly a fifth of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
Last week, fellow upscale restaurant Mei Jiang, a Chinese restaurant in The Peninsula Bangkok, reopened its doors to offer Thailand’s first-ever 100% plant-based Cantonese private fine dining experience.
It is time to redefine luxury as an experience that serves a higher purpose and maintains a genuine connection to the community.Daniel Humm, Chef & Owner, Eleven Madison Park
In July last year, Great Lakes Tokyo, a burger chain in the Japanese capital overhauled its existing menu to go completely vegan after what owner John Penny described as a “wake-up call” about the health and environmental dangers of the meat industry in the midst of the pandemic.
The prestigious Michelin Guides has also recently rolled out a new “Green Star” to award restaurants championing sustainable gastronomy, among them the Ares, France-based vegan restaurant ONA, who became the country’s first 100% plant-based restaurant to win a Michelin star earlier this year.
On the heels of Condé Nast-owned cooking platform Epicurious’ announcement that they are removing all beef recipes from its website as a part of its pro-planet strategy, Eleven Madison Park’s founder has no qualms that sustainability and plant-based is likely going to shape the future of the food industry.
“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,” said Humm. “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.”
All images courtesy of Eleven Madison Park.