Chef Daniel Humm Leaves London Restaurant Over Vegan Menu Dispute
Earlier this year, Chef Daniel Humm caused a shock wave through the restaurant world by announcing plans to remake his New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park into a strictly plant-based dining experience. Though vegan menus are increasingly common, few restaurants have EMP's pedigree: a decade with three Michelin stars and a spot atop the World's 50 Best Restaurants list in 2017.
The move was a risk — EMP was arguably still one of the most coveted reservations in the country, many of the previous signature dishes were meat-based, and customers pay an eye-popping premium to enjoy whatever is being served — but not only has Humm stuck with his new vision, he's apparently stood his ground doubling down on it. Late last week, news emerged that Humm would be exiting his one-Michelin-starred London restaurant Davies and Brook at London's Claridge's hotel after the hotel passed on the chef's vision to turn that establishment plant-based, too.
"Over the last 18 months I've taken time to consider what our next chapter looks like. It has never been more clear that the world is changing, and we have to change with it," the chef began on Instagram. "The future for me is plant-based. This is our mission and what we stand by as a company, and at this time this is not the direction that [Claridge's hotel] feels is right for them. It is with sadness now that we've mutually announced that we will go our separate ways at the end of this year."
"Standing behind this mission, and what we believe in, is most important and is unfortunately not something we can compromise on," Humm concluded. "I've never been more excited about cooking in my entire career and I'm excited for all that the future holds for us. More to come soon."
For its part, Claridge's also tried to bow out gracefully. "We wish to thank Daniel Humm and his extraordinary team at Davies and Brook for what they have created here at Claridge's since they opened in 2019," the hotel wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. "We completely respect and understand the culinary direction of a fully plant-based menu that Daniel has decided to embrace and champion and now wants to introduce in London. However, this is not the path we wish to follow here at Claridge's at the moment, and therefore, regretfully, we have mutually agreed to go our separate ways. Daniel has been a long standing friend of the hotel for many years and we wish him nothing but continued success as he spearheads this bold new vision."
Citing an unnamed insider, Richard Eden at the British paper The Daily Mail reported that Claridge's feared giving up its menu of foie gras, venison, lobster, and caviar. "It's a hotel nightmare," the anonymous source was quoted as saying. "Bosses are terrified that Humm will leave if his demands are not met, which would mean they would be without him during the Christmas season, their busiest time of year. But if they turn the restaurant vegan, they will upset thousands of regular guests."
So at least in one regard, the hotel got what it wanted. But to borrow the title of the popular holiday tune from the British duo Wham!, consider this Claridge's and Humm's last Christmas.