For decades, fine dining has been meat-centric, defined by entrees that feature duck, steak, or other signature animal-based dishes. Now, consumer interest is rapidly shifting away from meat-centric dining and the worldwide fine dining scene is following suit. The Copenhagen-based restaurant Geranium – currently ranked second on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list – announced that it will drop meat from its menus starting in January 2022. The renowned restaurant joins an extensive list of upscale dining establishments in dropping meat products.
The three-Michelin starred restaurant currently offers a 22-course menu that costs 2,800 DKK ($426). The acclaimed restaurant’s menu will still offer some seafood dishes but will make a significant shift to focus on vegetable-centric fine dining cuisine. Dropping all other meat products will require leaving multiple signature dishes at Denmark’s iconic restaurant behind.
Geranium’s head chef Rasmus Kofoed stopped eating meat five years ago but maintained his meat-centric menu at his highly awarded restaurant. Finally, the chef decided that he wanted to design his restaurant’s menu to better reflect his personal diet, and the changing consumer demand in Denmark and worldwide.
“My kitchen at Geranium has long been focused on vegetables, fish, and shellfish as the star on the plate, with small quantities of meat,” Kofoed said on Instagram. “The menu is a reflection of me, of who I am and how I am evolving as a chef and as a human being. I haven’t been eating meat for the last five years at home, so to no longer use meat on the new menu was a logical decision and a natural progression for Geranium.”
Kofoed announced that following his decision to cut meat from Geranium’s menu, he immediately had 15 plant-based dishes in mind. The chef first experimented with vegetarian menus last year when he launched his pop-up Angelika inside of Geranium. The pop-up menu provided customers with exciting upscale dishes that showcased the potential of plant-based foods in fine dining.
At Geranium and Angelika, the chef also prioritizes sustainable and local sourcing, building up biodynamic and organic farms across the region. The restaurant aims to put plant-based fine dining into the spotlight, working against tradition to create new standards for plant-based cooking.
“From my perspective, change is good, we grow from it, we learn from it, we step out of our comfort zone and often we benefit from it. Thank you for being a part of the journey, I’m excited to share this new chapter with you,” Kofoed said.
Geranium will be added to the growing list of Michelin-ranked restaurants to adopt plant-based cooking. The Michelin panel announced earlier this year that its judges awarded 57 vegetarian and 24 vegan restaurants with highly respected honors. Some Michelin-ranked restaurants that feature plant-forward menus include Milan’s Joia, Beijing’s King’s Joy, and New York’s Eleven Madison Park.
The fine-dining shift signifies a rapid change over recent years. France’s ONA (Origine Non-Animale) became the first all-vegan eatery to be awarded the Michelin star. The restaurant’s chef Claire Vallee opened her restaurants in 2016 to upturn conventions in fine dining. Vallee developed a seven-course menu to showcase innovative and delicious plant-based foods to promote sustainability in the upscale food scene.
“This goes to show that nothing is impossible,” Vallée wrote on Instagram following the news of her Michelin star in January. “We will continue on this path because this star is mine, it is yours … it is the one that definitively brings vegetable gastronomy into the closed circle of French and global gastronomy.”
Another Michelin-star chef, Dominique Crenn, is trying something completely new to promote sustainability at her restaurant Atelier Crenn. Crenn removed the meat from her menus in 2018, but earlier this year, she announced that she would be the first restaurant in the United States to offer cultivated meat, introducing a dish that features UPSIDE Foods’ innovative cell-based chicken. The San Francisco restaurant plans to serve the sustainable meat alternative in an effort to undercut conventional animal agriculture.
“When I tasted UPSIDE Chicken for the first time, I thought, this is it. This is the future of food. The look, smell, and sear—UPSIDE Chicken is just delicious,” Crenn said at the time. “People are finally waking up to the downsides of conventional meat production, which led me to remove meat from my menus several years ago.”
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