But first, the fine-dining legend will open The Fulton at Pier 17 sometime in April.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten abstains from meat at least twice a week. Similar to other chefs who have declared plant-based dining as the wave of the future, Vongerichten is a believer in the power of vegetables –– and rightfully so. He’s seen much success at his all-vegetarian abcV, which he debuted nearly two years ago in New York City’s Flatiron neighborhood. He even has plans to open more –– maybe one in Miami, he says.
“I always tell my chefs, ‘It takes two weeks to grow a radish and at least two years to 'grow' a steak.’ The future of food is plant-based, and I think people are finally starting to understand that,” Vongerichten says, sitting in the bright lobby adjacent to one of his Miami restaurants, Market, inside the Miami Beach Edition Hotel. Every time he visits the property, where he also runs Matador Room and Tropicale, the chef makes a conscious effort to incorporate more vegetables onto the menus.
“I’m not into meat alternatives or gimmicking meat,” he says. “There’s plenty of plants, herbs, and vegetables, which give me this endless possibility. The other food groups are so limiting, and there’s only so many ways you can prepare meat. With vegetables, you uncover an unlimited way of creating dishes.”
That’s why the French chef, who runs an empire of nearly 40 establishments around the world, will include a vegetarian restaurant at his forthcoming food hall inside the historic Tin Building next to the Pier 17 complex at NYC’s South Street Seaport. The 50,000-square-foot space, which was originally planned to only house a seafood market, will be run entirely by Vongerichten. Expected to open in 2021, he will operate numerous mini restaurants, including Chinese and Italian concepts, a raw bar, a sushi spot, the aforementioned vegetarian restaurant, and a candy store.
“Pier 17 is a big thing for us,” he says. “We took control of the old fish market, which is something like 150 years old, and we’re refurbishing the entire building into a food hall. It will be similar to Eataly but a lot more fish. We’re planning to open in two years, so by then you’ll also see other types of restaurants in there, but they will all be operated by me.”
In the meantime, the chef is gearing up to debut The Fulton, a 7,300-square-foot waterfront fish restaurant at Pier 17. Expected to open sometime in April, Vongerichten will serve a seafood and vegetable-centric menu alongside concepts by other notable chefs including David Chang, Helene Henderson, and Andrew Carmellini.
“For the restaurant and food hall, we will have fish delivered to us by boat every morning,” he says. “It’s going to be incredible.”
For some time, Vongerichten had planned to open an ABC Kitchen in the Miami Design District as well. Though the project has since fallen through, he still fantasizes about bringing one of his concepts down south. If he had to guess, he says it will most likely be an outpost of abcV. Though he has no definite plans as of yet, he says the idea is in the works.
“Plant-based dining is gaining momentum everywhere, but especially in Miami,” he says. “My team and I, we have a lot of ideas and dreams.”
When Vongerichten isn’t in the thick of planning new restaurants or cooking away inside his many kitchens, the chef says he prefers to be somewhere in silence. It’s always a treat for him to find time for one of his favorite activities –– paddle boarding.
“I’m busy, busy, busy, but I do get eight hours of sleep a night,” he says, laughing. “We have a great team, and there’s a lot of young talent, both on my team and not, who push me to go even further. But I have to say, when you deal with so many people every day, silence is my best friend.”
“Looking back, I’ve been doing this for 44 years now but I’m just warming up,” he continues. “There’s a lot more to come.”