High-end Chefs Going Vegan
Aldo Zilli, Italian-born celebrity chef, has by no means restricted his cuisine to strict vegetarian fare. His three London establishments, Zilli Fish, Zilli Bar, and Zilli Café, all include seafood and meat on the menu—yet his newest establishment, Zilli Green, features vegetarian food exclusively. Zilli is riding the wave of a recent culinary trend: like many other high-end and celebrity chefs, he is offering vegetarian options to non-vegetarian diners.
The reason is simple: green is in, and it’s here to stay. The momentum for eating well and consciously only grows day by day, and as consumers are catching on, so are chefs.
“Zilli Green reinforces the message that vegetarian food doesn't have to be dull or tasteless,” Zilli explains, “but exciting and delicious with quirky flavors and combinations.”
Zilli not only serves strictly vegetarian cuisine at his newest restaurant, he also creates the menus around what can be sourced locally. With the help of Enzo di Marino, an Italian-trained chef now working alongside Zilli, the two are able to invent “a wide selection of quality seasonal dishes with vegetables naturally sourced from trusted local producers and prepared in a dedicated meat and fish-free kitchen,” says Zilli.
Menu items at Zilli Green, such as sweet potato-stuffed chimichangas, tofu sausage with mushroom gravy, or ricotta, artichoke and truffle ravioli make for a fine-dining experience without the usual animal products.
The implications of this trend meld into the political shifts we are also seeing take place around health-conscious cuisine: nationally-enforced calorie labeling, sodium restrictions, and a robust school lunch reform are permeating modern dining culture. What role will chefs have in the growing focus on vegetarian standards for fine dining?
“Zilli Green has started a mini revolution for people to go green, or at least have one meat-free day, each week,” Zilli states. “We attract both meat and non-meat eaters, all looking to taste something new, something fresh and something which will make them feel great.”
Zilli isn’t the only chef recommending diners try eating vegetarian one day a week—celebrity chef Mario Batali recently instated “Meatless Mondays” at every one of his restaurants as a means of promoting vegetarian options to his regular high-end diners. Says Batali, "I'm a vegetarian all day until dinner, and I try to eat no meat whatsoever on Monday and Tuesday."
The impetus to eat healthy, sustainable cuisine continues to grow with every celebrity or high-end chef that signs on. Be on the lookout for meatless options at a fine dining restaurant near you.
When we discuss the idea of trends and fads within the community or with our guests, we must consider many different factors before sharing our thoughts. Here is article about high-end chefs exploring the untapped market of the vegetarian diner.
In a recent segment by 60 minutes, Chef Jose Andres shares his thoughts on The Culinary Miracles of Jose Andres. His views on food are pioneering the experiences of molecular gastronomy, but also exploring the idea of produce taking center stage over protein.
To summarize, Jose Andres reveals that the flavor explosions of a protein (in this case chicken) are temporary. Once you have started to chew, the flavor extraction only last a few seconds. However, when you bite into a pineapple the flavor experience is present from beginning to end. He predicts that the future of food and menus will revolve around this idea and that produce will take center stage over meat.
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Written for Cookwork: Kim Stakal, The Green Gourmet, chef & food writer