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The chef who was once the toast of the NYC restaurant world has hit rocky ground as customers in his NoMad restaurant, which once topped the city’s best restaurant list, have dropped off, and a restaurant deal in the prestigious new 425 Park skyscraper has fallen through – both after he insisted on vegan menus.
Daniel Humm, 46, the head chef and owner of Eleven Madison Park revealed on Instagram in late March that his two-story fine dining restaurant slated to be called ‘Four Twenty Five’ in the new skyscraper would not be happening.
‘It saddens me to have to walk away from this project,’ he said on Instagram. ‘But I knew in my heart that I needed to double down on my values and commit to what I believe is right for our community and our planet.’
Daniel Humm, 46, the head chef and owner of Eleven Madison Park reveled on Instagram in late March that opening a restaurant in the new 425 Park skyscraper would not be happening
Humm was hoping to open a new vegan spot in the 14,000-square-foot dining space, but the real estate developer wasn’t on board, the New York Post reported. Jean-Georges Vongerichten, another fine dining chef, is believed to be stepping in, but the deal has not yet finalized.
Eleven Madison Park’s $335 11-course menu
tea with lemon verbena
salad with strawberry and shiso
yellow tomato dosa
in variation with rice
with peas and baby lettuce
with melon and smoked daikon
with lemongrass and marinated tofu
with Swiss chard
with horseradish and herbs
with tomato and coriander
sides: summer beans with green onion, corn with juniper
marinated with thyme
Citadel, a hedge fund firm, is the anchor tenant of the 670,000 square-foot, 47-story tower, taking over 331,800 square feet in the building.
Humm’s broken 425 Park deal is not the first to have fallen through for him because of his vegan philosophy. The chef’s London spot, Davies and Brook, at Claridge’s hotel, closed in December after the hotel refused to allow the restaurant to switch over to a vegan menu.
Humm has argued that the current restaurant situation is not sustainable for the planet. An anonymous food world insider told the Post that it’s believed Humm still eats animal products – when it’s been previously reported that Humm’s diet is 90 percent vegetarian.
In June 2021, when Eleven Mad reopened after shutting down during the pandemic, Humm announced that it would now be entirely vegan. But the price for the 11-course meal at the Michelin three-starred establishment remained $335 – the same price as when there was foie gras on the menu.
Although Humm was determined to make the plant-based menu a success, the sudden pivot to veganism preceded a split from his business partner.
He had been riding a wave of success with Eleven Mad, in a high-ceilinged Art Deco building by the Flatiron. It was named the best restaurant on the planet in 2017, according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list.
But on a recent Tuesday, the once impossible-to-book restaurant was only about 70 percent full, the New York Post reported.
The Post reported that an email sent to potential customers on March 31, announced reservation openings for May, hinting a bit at ‘desperation’.
‘The mistake we all make is [we think] we’re going to break down the barriers and be successful right away and for chef Humm he’s kind of starting over,’ Amanda Cohen, the chef at vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy, said. ‘It really is sort of a total re-brand. It would be like if I decided to open an all-meat restaurant.’
Last October, Humm’s vegan menu received a scathing review in the New York Times, and it slammed the fact that those who booked a private dining room in the back of the restaurant could still order meat.
New York Times critic Pete Wells had little time for a dehydrated beetroot dish served in a clay pot that is broken open at the table, saying that it ‘tastes like Lemon Pledge and smells like a burning joint.’
Eleven Madison Park reopened in June 2021, and had a 15,000-person wait list for tables. Last fall, The New York Times published a damning review of the new vegan menu
Cucumber with melon and smoked daikon – one of the 11 dishes on the tasting menu. Two chefs work full-time for a whole day to prepare the ingredients for this dish
Eggplant with tomato and cilantro, which Wells said had a ‘cloying heaviness’
Angelina Jolie was among those who attended the re-opening night, back in June
The vegetables, Wells said, were ‘doing things no root vegetable should be asked to do’, and he accused Humm of manipulating the ingredients far beyond necessary.
A tomato dish was described by Wells as having a ‘pumped-up, distorted flavor, like tomatoes run through a wah-wah pedal,’ a device used by musicians to distort the sound of an electric guitar.
Eleven Madison Park won its first Michelin star in 2010. The following year, it joined the elite group of three-starred restaurants – an accolade it has maintained until the last ranking, in May 2021.
Eleven Madison Park had not reopened post-COVID in time for the latest rankings, meaning food-watchers must wait until May 2022 to see whether it can hold onto its three coveted stars with a plant-based menu.
There are only 134 three-starred restaurants in the world; France and Japan have 29 each, and there are 14 in the United States.
New York City currently has five – the same number as London.
Source: Daily Mail