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Cooking for clients who prefer a plant-based menu

  • 19 April 2019
  • 5min

Cooking for clients who prefer a plant-based menu

Chefs and restaurant owners share their culinary techniques for developing a menu with fewer animal proteins.

Keep a focus on the season

Eric Ripert, executif chef at Le Bernadin, New York City, USA

“Le Bernardin is fundamentally a seafood restaurant. In 2018, we decided to have vegetarian and vegan options printed on the menu. For us, that poses a creative challenge every bit as appealing as working with meat or fish. Here in New York, we are fortunate enough to have four genuine seasons, and my job is to keep the kitchen connected to the seasons. In the winter, we are able to find root vegetables, such as potatoes and squash, as well as truffles, and with spices, you can really do some fabulous things. With the menu we are currently featuring,, guests start with a truffled celery soup, followed by a vegetable curry with Romanesco broccoli and, finally, by morels and other wild mushrooms. Our mantra is that fish is the star of the plate. That applies to vegetables as well: our techniques have to be good enough to showcase them properly. For the team, this is rather new, so everyone is very committed to this project.”

Risotto without chicken broth and an emphasis on fermentation

Arnaud Hamoline, manager of Le Mont-à-Gourmet restaurant in Gouy-lez-Piéton, Belgium

“We have been working with all forms of vegetables for three years now. Initially, it was only upon request; these days, we genuinely seek to delight our vegetarian and vegan guests. We have no pre-established menu; we work with the assorted vegetables that our suppliers offer us at the end of each week. That can include grains such as spelt, which we prepare like a risotto; in place of chicken stock, we simply add salted water or a freshly squeezed vegetable juice. Since obtaining vegetables becomes more complicated in the winter, we ferment a lot of products. That is an area in which we have taken great inspiration from the work of René Redzepi. Fermentation allows foods to keep a strong, vinegary taste and, especially, to be stored longer, as in the case of carrots. We’ve tried it with white asparagus, which can then be used like pickles. It’s really good; they are a bit salty and sour.”

Presenting cooked vegetables in every form

Philippe Fauchet, chef and manager at Restaurant Philippe Fauchet in Saint-Georges, Belgium

“In 2012, the We’re Smart World label named us the best restaurant for plant-based foods in Belgium. At the restaurant we have a 99% plant-based set menu that is similar to our meat or fish menus, but served without animal protein. We allow ourselves just a touch of cream. I love presenting a vegetable in all its forms by using a variety of cooking methods. For example, in winter, I make a celery pie baked in the wood oven and I offer a celery purée with the skin, but I also make celery powder that can be used to season risotto or for plate decoration. The prices of all our set menus are the same, even though the plant-based menu takes more preparation time than a standard dish, especially when it comes to set-up.”

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