Daniel Hamm has two words for critics who roasted him after ditching meat and fish for a vegan menu: Beat it!
Over the past 19 months, the chef and owner of Eleven Madison Park has restored gastronomic glory while transforming the NoMad restaurant into a vegan haven.
When Humm first told diners that the 10-course $365 meal would no longer include duck, lobster and caviar, he confirms there was a lot of customer apprehension. , accused him of serving expensive but predictable vegan food.
Most famously, New York Times critic Pete Wells said that beet dishes “taste like lemon pledge and smell like burnt joints.”
Hum, 48, declined to specifically comment on the grim press. But at first, creating an entirely plant-based menu proved to be a bigger challenge than he was prepared for.
“At first it was like, ‘What’s the main course?'” Hamm said. “We didn’t know. There was no playbook that said how it would be done.”
Ultimately, Humm says he was forced to rethink his dining experience. With accolades and supporters returning, EMP earned his three Michelin stars in October. The leading restaurant guide praised Hum’s “zealous dedication to stunning precision” and called his all-vegetable menu “a bold vision of fine dining.”
“Freshly baked, delicate, crunchy vegan rolls with faux butter, a magical creation,” raved our guide. “Caviar-inspired quenelles with horseradish cream, radishes with pumpkin seed butter, served with her tostadas, just to die for.”
According to Hamm, instead of using seasonal vegetables with animal protein, the season itself became the story.
“I thought it would be limited, but since I’ve been making seasonal seasonings for meat and fish, I’ve found that I used to be limited. Each item is in season.”
It’s not that reservations are no longer available, but the atmosphere in the dining room is “almost euphoric, because it’s certainly plant-based,” Ham said, adding that diners are younger and more diverse.
“Before, by the time people reached the main course, the energy was collapsing. People were full, sleepy and wanted to go home,” said the Swiss-born chef. “Now it’s quite the opposite. As the night goes on, the energy in the dining room is completely uplifted.”
The pandemic was a major factor forcing former professional cyclist Humm to change gears. He closed the restaurant and turned it into a concession stand for He Rethink Food, founded by EMP alumni. Humm serves on the founding committee. Community Kitchen served one million meals in the 16 months that EMP was closed, he said.
When it came time to reopen the restaurant, Humm said: It’s a unique platform to be really honest with what I’ve seen as a chef. ”
Now, Hum said he’s serious about elevating vegan food to its rightful place on the cooking table.
“I wanted to use my words to show you how incredibly delicious, beautiful, and magical meals can be eaten without animal products.” I am more than convinced.”
Today, portions of EMP’s $365 per person tasting menu (8-10 courses) and $195 per person bar tasting menu (6 courses) are available for a day cooked and served for the city by EMP’s chefs. 500 will be used for the cost of meals. No food is safe from their trucks. One meal at a restaurant provides five free meals for unsafe food, Humm said.
It’s also a way to recycle food waste, Ham added. He’s also been plagued by reports that he’s paying his staff the minimum wage he can’t afford to live with, but he refused to mention it when asked by Side Dish.
Away from the kitchen, the divorced father of three who dropped out of school at 14, left home at 15, had his first child at 18, is a billionaire philanthropist and Apple was related to Lauren Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, the founder of Actress Demi Moore. (His love life was yet another topic he refused to delve into.)
Hamm’s passion for plant-based cuisine has been represented in the New Year by celebrating ‘Veganuary’, a global campaign in which people pledge to follow a vegan lifestyle for 30 days.
“Restaurants are embracing veganism more than ever, from street corner bodega to Michelin-starred restaurants like Eleven Madison Park,” said Wendy Matthews, U.S. director of campaigns for the nonprofit.
Starting in 2014, just 3,325 people have committed to going vegan for a month. That number jumped to 400,000 during the pandemic and reached 629,000 last year, Matthews said.
we hear … There’s still time to soak up the city’s best holiday season from some of the city’s most creative chefs and restaurateurs. Pop-ups abound and holiday decorations are everywhere. The Moxy Hotel’s Magic HOUR rooftop lounge features an Instagram-worthy après-ski carousel, as is Macabee Bar for Hanukkah in the West Village.