Article by Ben Davis, Plant Based World
After the pandemic shut down restaurants across the city, chef and owner, Daniel Humm, has reopened New York City’s three Michelin-starred restaurant, Eleven Madison Park. This reopening revealed a new 100% plant-based menu that costs $325 per customer. Although plant-based options are becoming increasingly popular, this announcement was unprecedented for a restaurant of this caliber.
In planning our yearly shows together in New York and London, I can’t tell you how exciting this news is for the plant-based community. There is simply no precedence for a chef of a restaurant this size to commit to a change across their entire menu. Others that have stepped into the plant-based space have for the most part catered to a flexitarian crowd and made conservative menu changes to see what would stick.
Every time someone has taken a leap in furthering what is happening in the plant-based space, they have been rewarded both financially and through the media. It’s riding on this consistent success that people who pioneered this new shift are seeing.
Humm’s decision to create a 100% plant-based menu creates a bigger splash than simply incorporating meatless options into their previous menu. This drastic change is certainly more noteworthy, one that cannot help but draw the media’s attention from across the world. I imagine people flying in to try Eleven Madison Park’s plant-based meals, to try something no one else has done before.
Not only has this announcement created excitement but has left many shocked. Headlines continuously emphasize the $325 price per customer. However, people must understand this meal charge is the same as it was previously, pre-pandemic and pre-menu change. I understand the surprise people might express concerning the price, but it’s completely justified. People will pay a premium for healthy food. They are used to paying more for healthy or sustainable products. What Daniel is doing here is saying, we’ll cook you just as delicious of a meal, it’s going to be healthier, it’s going to be more sustainable, and we’re only going to charge you the same price.
From what I can tell, the menu looks to serve artfully crafted plant-based meals from vegetable ingredients. A lack of reliance on plant-based meat alternatives, leaves the restaurant solely dependent on a quality produce distributor for whole food ingredients. People might assume a plant-based meal would be cheaper than a meal of premium meat such as filet mignon, but there are back-end costs many do not consider.
Plant-based ingredients require less resources and energy to produce, but meat products have a much more established supply chain and subsidies attached to them. One must also consider the challenge of creating an entirely new menu.
Humm has spoken to his decision to switch to a plant-based menu as influenced by the lack of guarantee that protein products will continue to be available in the future. I agree with this vision. Meat products have steadily decreased in quality over the years, and the land needed to produce these products continues to disappear. When you look to the future, there is simply not enough Earth to continue to create these products in the long-term. We have a steady declining meat product quality and a time limit on how much we can produce, so I say that this concern is accurate.
A shift from a reliance on meat products to plant-based products needs to happen in order to keep feeding people. I believe now that Eleven Madison Park reopens its doors with this newly crafted menu, this shift will continue to progress. I expect huge success for Humm with this concept. I think we’re going to see a lot of money coming in and a lot of people following suit, and I enthusiastically await to see how this move will expand the plant-based space.
I applaud Daniel Humm for being a leader, and for taking the first big step needed to inspire other people to join him into making a difference within the food industry.
Ben Davis programs the world’s first and only fully plant-based trade expo and accompanying news site and newsletter. He developed the original concept of Plant Based World Conference and Expo for trade show management company JD Events, inspired by his own personal plant-based journey. The event launched successfully in 2019 in the U.S. at the Javits Convention Center in New York City and is currently in the launch phase of a European show to debut in London in 2021. Ben’s mission is to make delicious, natural foods accessible to everyone. He believes that diet and lifestyle are the keys to a balanced and prosperous future for all beings on Earth. Outside of his work in food, Ben is a music producer and performer under the stage name Vibe Street. His greatest joy is making people smile, dance and come alive to the magic of the present moment. Ben is determined to spend his life building community and celebrating this mysterious human experience to the fullest.