Eleven Madison Park Going Meatless
On Monday, Chef Daniel Humm announced that Eleven Madison Park, closed since last March by the pandemic, would reopen with a plant-based menu. It marks a striking departure for one of the most lavishly praised American restaurants of the past 20 years. An institution long known for the technical proficiency of dishes featuring suckling pig, sea urchin and lavender glazed duck will reopen with a menu free of meat and seafood.
Eleven Madison Park’s multi course menu will keep its pre-pandemic price of $335, including tip. While a relatively small number of diners will be able to afford such an expense at a restaurant where reservations have always been difficult to obtain, Mr. Humm is among a small number of chefs whose cultural influence extends beyond fine dining, said Paul Freedman, a professor of history at Yale University and the author of “Ten Restaurants That Changed America.” He said that the new 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.”
While the restaurant’s ingredient costs will go down, labor costs will go up as Mr. Humm and his chefs work to make vegan food live up to Eleven Madison Park’s reputation. “It’s a labor intensive and time consuming process,” he said. The restaurant will also help sustain Eleven Madison Truck, a mobile commissary kitchen Mr. Humm launched last spring, in partnership with Rethink Food, to address rising hunger needs in New York during the pandemic. Every meal purchased at Eleven Madison Park will provide five meals for that effort.
Eleven Madison Park will not be entirely free of animal products — they will continue to offer milk and honey for coffee and tea service — and Mr. Humm steers clear of the word “vegan,” which he thinks can have negative connotations.“Eleven Madison Park is about surprising people,” Mr. Humm said. “We don’t want to lecture people.”
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