Final summer season, the chef Daniel Humm made a promise to himself. If he was going to reopen Eleven Madison Park, the Manhattan restaurant that has been referred to as the perfect on the planet, he was not going to return to importing caviar and braising celery root in pigs’ bladders.
On Monday, Mr. Humm introduced that Eleven Madison Park, closed since final March by the pandemic, would reopen with a plant-based menu. It marks a hanging departure for one of the vital lavishly praised American eating places of the previous 20 years. An establishment lengthy identified for the technical proficiency of dishes that includes suckling pig, sea urchin and lavender glazed duck will reopen with a menu freed from meat and seafood.
Over the past 18 months, scrutiny of meat- and seafood-based diets for environmental and social causes has intensified because the pandemic has uncovered weaknesses in world meals programs and underscored inequities in American life. Although Mr. Humm nonetheless provides loads of purple meat at his London restaurant, Davies and Brook at Claridge’s lodge, the transfer at Eleven Madison Park — which has 4 stars from The New York Instances and three from Michelin — suggests how completely different wonderful eating might look as eating places reopen and reimagine themselves.
Eleven Madison Park’s multicourse menu will hold its prepandemic worth of $335, together with tip. Whereas a comparatively minuscule variety of diners will have the ability to afford such an expense at a restaurant the place reservations have all the time been troublesome to acquire, Mr. Humm is amongst a small variety of cooks whose cultural affect extends past wonderful eating, mentioned Paul Freedman, a professor of historical past at Yale College and the writer of “Ten Eating places That Modified America.”
He mentioned that the brand new Eleven Madison Park will “have an affect on the perfect eating places in locations like Midland, Texas — prosperous locations that aren’t Los Angeles or San Francisco or New York.”
Ruth Reichl, the previous editor of Gourmand journal and restaurant critic for The New York Instances from 1993 to 1999, mentioned Mr. Humm’s instance might affect the path of American restaurant delicacies within the years forward.
“A restaurant like Eleven Madison Park is mainly a educating establishment,” Ms. Reichl mentioned, likening its potential affect to that of Chez Panisse, the pioneering restaurant in Berkeley, Calif.
Mr. Humm mentioned the choice is the results of a yearslong re-evaluation about the place his profession was headed, which reached its breaking level through the pandemic.
“It turned very clear to me that our thought of what luxurious is needed to change,” Mr. Humm mentioned. “We couldn’t return to doing what we did earlier than.”
Whereas the restaurant’s ingredient prices will go down, labor prices will go up as Mr. Humm and his cooks work to make vegan meals dwell as much as Eleven Madison Park’s status. “It’s a labor intensive and time consuming course of,” he mentioned.
The restaurant may also assist maintain Eleven Madison Truck, a cellular commissary kitchen Mr. Humm launched final spring, in partnership with Rethink Meals, to handle rising starvation wants in New York through the pandemic. Each meal bought at Eleven Madison Park will present 5 meals for that effort.
“I wished everybody who comes into contact with Eleven Madison Park to turn into part of doing good,” Mr. Humm mentioned.
Jay Rayner, the restaurant critic for The Observer, in London, applauded Mr. Humm’s choice, however cautioned “there are limits to what you are able to do via the medium of a Michelin-starred restaurant.”
“Cooks ought to clearly proceed sourcing their substances responsibly, in gentle of the local weather emergency,” he continued. “However on the finish of the day, you’re nonetheless cooking for wealthy individuals, and also you may query their dedication to those issues.”
Mr. Humm, who was born in Switzerland and cooks in a method developed in Western Europe, is way from the primary chef of his stature to shift his focus to greens. Alain Passard has been serving a vegetable tasting menu at L’Arpège, his celebrated restaurant in Paris, since 2001. Ms. Reichl identified that Charlie Trotter was cooking equally within the Nineteen Nineties, in Chicago.
Amanda Cohen, the chef and proprietor of Filth Sweet, a vegetarian restaurant in New York Metropolis, mentioned Mr. Humm’s choice is important as a result of he had not been beforehand related to plant-based delicacies. “It continues to maneuver the dialog ahead,” she mentioned.
Mr. Humm turned govt chef at Eleven Madison Park in 2006, eight years after it was first opened by the restaurateur Danny Meyer. Mr. Humm and his then enterprise accomplice, Will Guidara, bought the restaurant from Mr. Meyer in 2011. The companions strove to land atop the annual checklist of the World’s 50 Greatest Eating places.
Mr. Humm mentioned the stress that got here with lastly reaching that purpose, in 2017, contributed to the break up with Mr. Guidara in 2019.
In recent times, Mr. Humm has been courting Laurene Powell Jobs, the outstanding philanthropist, founding father of the Emerson Collective and widow of Steve Jobs. Ms. Jobs just isn’t financially concerned in Eleven Madison Park, he mentioned.
Mr. Humm’s change in path additionally comes as extra outstanding eating places have shifted to plant-based menus, typically to vital applause.
The Bay Space chef Dominique Crenn made all of her eating places meat-free in 2019. In January, the Michelin Information gave its first star to a totally vegan institution in France, ONA, a restaurant close to Bordeaux. In February, the chef Ann Kim opened her new Minneapolis restaurant, Sooki & Mimi, with a vegetable and masa-based tasting menu.
Cooking publications and web sites have made comparable bets about diners’ priorities. Final month, Epicurious, the favored cooking web site, mentioned it will not publish new beef recipes and had been phasing them out for over a yr over considerations about local weather change. Epicurious cited information from the Meals and Agriculture Group of the United Nations that mentioned 14.5 p.c of worldwide greenhouse gasoline emissions come from livestock.
However Eleven Madison Park is not going to be fully freed from animal merchandise — they may proceed to supply milk and honey for espresso and tea service — and Mr. Humm steers away from the phrase “vegan,” which he thinks can have destructive connotations.
“Eleven Madison Park is about shocking individuals,” Mr. Humm mentioned. “We don’t need to lecture individuals.”