Three-Star NYC Restaurant is Going Meat-Free

Eleven Madison Park will have a plant-based menu.

May 29, 2021
Three-Star NYC Restaurant is Going Meat-Free | Eleven Madison Park will have a plant-based menu.

Eleven Madison Park,  a Michelin three-star – and New York Times four-star – popular restaurant in Manhattan, has a reputation for a daring menu of exotic dishes like suckling pig, Kobe beef, sea urchin, and honey glazed duck according to the New York Times. The upscale eatery has been one of the most praised American restaurants for the past two decades.

Like most restaurants in the city, Eleven Madison Park was closed during the pandemic so when its chef and owner Daniel Humm, announced on May 3, 2021 that Eleven Madison Park would no longer offer seafood or meat when it reopens on June 10, 2021, it was very big news.

The pandemic had a lot to do with this decision because it increased the awareness of the environmental and social inequalities in global food systems. “The current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways,” he told NYT.

“It became very clear to me that our idea of what luxury is hard to change,” Humm said. “We couldn’t go back to doing what we did before.”

While many people support the idea of eating plant-based food, it is certainly questionable if it will work with its regular clientele since Humm is planning on keeping its pre-pandemic prix fixe  price of $335 including tip.

The restaurant will focus on vegetables, legumes, grains, and fruit rather than plant-based meat alternatives according to CNN. But the restaurant is not actually vegan because it will offer milk and honey for their coffee and tea.

While the cost of the ingredients will go down, labor costs will go up, Humm told CNN . He added that cooking vegan food that will live up to the restaurant's  reputation is a labor intensive and time-consuming process.

Humm admitted that this is a risky move in a statement on its website. “I'm not going to lie, at times I'm up in the middle of the night, thinking about the risk we're taking abandoning dishes that once defined us,” Humm said. “It's crucial to us that no matter the ingredients, the dish must live up to some of my favorites of the past.” He said, “[this is] a tremendous challenge.”

Humm, who was born in Switzerland, became the executive chef at Eleven Madison Park in 2006, and he and his former partner bought the restaurant in 2011 according to NYT. The partnership ended in 2019 after the exclusive eatery made it to the top of the annual list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Humm is one of the chefs whose influence goes beyond just fine dining, Paul Freedmen, a history professor at Yale University told NYT. he said that the new meatless Eleven Madison Park will “have an influence on the best restaurants in places like Midland, Texas — affluent places that are not Los Angeles or San Francisco or New York.”

Besides reimagining what  his vision for the restaurant’s future means after the pandemic, Humm also launched Eleven Madison Truck in the spring of 2020 with Rethink Food.  The mobile commissary kitchen was created to help address the rising food insecurity in New York City. Each meal purchased provided five meals for the cause.

This is a very big change for Eleven Madison Park but if it is successful, it could pave the way for other exclusive eateries to switch to more sustainable food options even if they do not completely change their menus.

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Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.