Jun
13

Vegetables Become “The Star” With Michelin Chefs

imagesThe disdain held by many professional chefs all over the world towards vegetarians seems to be coming to an end. With the growing popularity of plant-based diets and increasing requests for vegetarian dishes in restaurants, vegetarian menus are popping up in the world’s finest restaurants. Thank goodness, it’s no longer “in vogue” for chefs to voice their contempt for non-meat eaters.

The American celebrity chef, Mario Batali, has been one of the kinder chefs to vegetarians. He introduced Meatless Mondays across his restaurant empire and has even hired a “vegetable butcher.”

Chef Mario Batali

Chef Mario Batali

Top chefs around the world are following Chef Batali’s lead preparing vegetarian menus as haute cuisine. Hopefully, this growing trend will eliminate insulting comments such as these…

Chef Anthony Bourdain

Chef Anthony Bourdain

 

“Vegetarians and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction the vegans are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn…the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.”

-Chef Anthony Bourdain

 

 

 

Chef Gordon Ramsay

Chef Gordon Ramsay

 

“My biggest nightmare would be if the kids ever said: ‘Dad, I’m a vegetarian.’ Then I would sit them on the fence and electrocute them.”

-Chef Gordon Ramsay

 

 

The evidence is mounting that the negative mindset towards the vegetarian lifestyle by professional cooks is dissipating. Even Gordon Ramsey has expressed a change of heart after staying at an ashram while travelling across India for “Gordon’s Great Escape,” leading him to apologize to vegetarians for his history of rudeness.

In an article entitled “Victory For The Vegetables” published in The Sydney Morning Herald on August 16, 2011, Scott Bolles discussed how the vegetable has become the full-fledged “star” of many dishes in some of the top restaurants throughout Sydney, Australia. “No longer do restaurants merely remove the protein from an existing dish to be served to ‘pain in the arse’ vegetarians.” Now, vegetables are viewed differently being made into delicious creations to be showcased. In the article, Chef Ross Lusted from Sydney was quoted as saying “When you get into pulses and grains, our climate is perfectly suited for this type of eating. Vegetarianism is not a fad. More and more people are choosing to live that way and it’s important the food community can support that.”

On April 18, 2013, The Wall Street Journal published an article called “La Nouvelle Veg” with the following subtitle: “Haute-vegetarian menus are conquering Europe. Even a restaurant critic who’s spent decades delighting in the Continent’s foie gras and veal chops welcomes the revolution.” In the article, Alexander Lobrano delightfully discussed several Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe featuring vegetarian menus.

Mr. Lobrano reported that Lasserie in Paris, a “glamorous old luxury-liner of a restaurant,” is now offering a vegetarian tasting menu. “There’s been a growing demand for vegetarian dishes from our clientele, which is very international,” said Lasserie’s Chef Christophe Moret. “In France,” Mr. Moret continued, “there’s still this default idea of vegetarian food as some sort of punishment, and it’s just not true. In fact, one of my first gastronomic memories is eating delicious first-of-the season peas from my grandfather’s garden.”

Mr. Lobrano also reported that, during a trip to Zurich, he’d noticed that “most of the best restaurants in Switzerland’s business capital, including the trendy Clouds, a Michelin-one-star, are now offering vegetarian menus alongside their conventional ones.” The restaurants Mesa and &Samhoud Places were mentioned as having excellent vegetarian menus. He further stated that “It was at Lassere, though, that I finally got it: Europe is in the midst of a green revolution.”

The Times Of London recently reported that Michelin star-winning French Chef Bruno Loubet will be launching Grain Store this week, “a big, stylish restaurant in King’s Cross that will be devoted to giving the starring role to vegetables rather than meat and fish.” Although many of Grain Store’s dishes will include meat and fish, they will be served in small portions playing a supporting role to the vegetables. “I’ve been thinking about this for maybe 20 years,” says Chef Loubet. “But back then to open a restaurant leaning more on veg in London would have been bizarre.”

Chef Loubet also stated that “These days, if you look at most of the tasting menus in top restaurants there are courses where the veg becomes important in the dish; it’s not the garnish any more. I think the time of the classic menu is finished. The approach is quite different; you can see a shift.”

As for the mindset of professional cooks who hold the vegetarian lifestyle in contempt, Bruno Loubet says “I would be a liar to say I haven’t encountered that sort of attitude in my brigades. But they know not to mess with me.”

Chef Bruno Loubet is clearly a pioneer in the culinary world, and his “no-nonsense” attitude tells me that his new London restaurant Grain Store will be all the rage. I truly believe that “any chef worth a damn” will be astute enough to realize that “the times, they are a changin’,” and that they’d better learn to give the almighty vegetable (and its worshippers) the respect that it deserves.

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Debby

xoxoxo

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Comments

  1. Matt Ruderman says:

    This is an excellent article, Debby! Here’s hoping we continue to see a sea change in the attitudes of haute cuisine chefs and that more top restaurants will cater to vegans and vegetarians.

    • Thank you Matt! It appears that the sea of change in attitudes is happening and that vegetarian food is becoming more and more mainstream in top restaurants. At the very least, chefs are recognizing that more people are adopting a vegetarian lifestyle and that they must support that.

  2. Tony Valentine says:

    I hope that you have a vegan restaurant in Detroit ,
    I’m looking for a treat.?

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