Reader: Chefs Who Don't Cater to Vegans' Needs Are Irritating

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Vicky Wasick
Though light and pretty, this is not a vegan-friendly dish--and Richard Kuo doesn't want to make it into one.
In my interview with Pearl & Ash's Richard Kuo, he noted that it irritates him to accommodate vegans because he doesn't feel like they're getting the full experience of a meal. "It would be like going to Marea and asking for a cheeseburger," he explains. "It's not relevant to what the restaurant is about." And while he understands vegans sometimes eat out with non-vegan friends and, therefore, have no choice, he thinks it would be wiser if they sought out vegan-friendly restaurants instead.

One reader took issue with his logic, though. Says garsleat:

What an insensitive comment given by this chef. What IS a 'regular' restaurant? So whould all vegans be cooking at their own kitchen instead? A 'true' chef is willing to take the challenge (with advanced notification, of course) to feed a vegan customer. Any cuisine could offer something. A sushi place could make sushi with avocado, pickles, and seasonal vegetables. an Italian restaurant (like Marea) could make a pasta dish with tomato sauce, or a French bistro definitely can make salad with delicious side dishes of grilled vegetables. As long as a the customer isn't being too demanding, especially at this restaurant's price point, the chef should be able to cater this dietary needs as appropriately. What irks me the most is that he's not 'happy' to cook for such customer. Perhaps all vegans should take their hard earned money to patronizer= a restaurant that respects all walks of life looking for a nice dining experience.

Do vegans--or other modifiers--miss out on the experience of a restaurant like Pearl & Ash? Or is it the chef's responsibility to make sure every diner gets the point regardless of his or her dietary restrictions? Join the conversation in the comments.




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17 comments
BeckiM
BeckiM

It's a shame that a certain demographic of people are shunned by certain chefs because of their beliefs and/or health limitations. In my mind, serving vegan options would make the chef look better, as it shows the range of culinary expertise and ability that the chef has. If you're bothered by certain restaurants not catering to your dietary needs, I would highly recommend not going to that restaurant, telling friends, and yelping about that restaurants limitations and clear insensitivity! Also, maybe instead of going out to eat, you could cook your own yummy food. I like ChooseVeg.com to get inspired by their recipes!

LaBrezel
LaBrezel

@veganfuture thats probably because the challenge of using their brain in order to use substitutes is too tough for them

PhoebeS
PhoebeS

Personally, I don't even go to restaurants that do not offer vegan options simply because the chefs in these restaurants are way overwhelmed with the task of preparing TASTY vegan options. I work hard for my money, and when I eat out--which I do quite often--I expect to get exactly what I want. I really don't have the patience or time to deal with chefs with such little imagination and knowledge. And the chef featured in this article, Richard Kuo, makes my point because  "it irritates him to accommodate vegans because he doesn't feel like they're getting the full experience of a meal. " He obviously is familiar only with a very limited range of spices and has no clue about vegan cuisine. Why would I waste my money in such an establishment?

HereHere
HereHere

I am grateful to the restaurants who have warmly served me vegan meals. I typically give several days advance notice, and these have been high-end restaurants. Oddly enough, one of the most disappointing places was an Italian restaurant run by a vegetarian acquaintance. Her staff didn't even know what vegan meant. In my city, I tend to stick with veg restaurants, and bring my friends with me. Occasionally, they win over and we go to someplace mainstream (mid-priced), and I've had no problem. There are a few places I would not venture in to, however. 

DrNikolasVanHelsing
DrNikolasVanHelsing

Let's look at garsleat's whineatribe from a different perspective:

"What an insensitive comment given by this chef. What IS a 'regular' restaurant? So should all carnivores be cooking at their own kitchen instead? A 'true' chef is willing to take the challenge (with advanced notification, of course) to feed a meat-eating customer. Any cuisine could offer something. A vegetarian sushi place could make sushi with beef. an Italian vegetarian restaurant could make a pasta dish con carne, or a French bistro definitely can make salad with delicious grilled chicken or bacon. As long as a the customer isn't being too demanding, especially at this restaurant's price point, the chef should be able to cater this dietary needs as appropriately. What irks me the most is that he's not 'happy' to cook for such customer. Perhaps all omnivores should take their hard earned money to patronize restaurants that respect all walks of life looking for a nice dining experience."

He's right!  It's not hard to accommodate diners with different tastes!!!!



annezelek
annezelek

@ForkintheRoadVV in a world w/ menupages, there's no excuse for sitting down at a chef's restaurant whose food you don't want to eat.

aine.creedon
aine.creedon

I agree with the reader to a certain extent, I have tasted some of the most delicious vegetarian food EVER - so for a chef to deny themselves the option of exploring what vegetarian or vegan dishes they could make just seems pretentious and lazy.

epac666
epac666 topcommenter

It is not "the chef's responsibility to make sure every diner gets the point"...that's retarded. If a restaurant doesn't make anything you will eat, go somewhere else. Simple.

LKate
LKate

If you can't cater to dietary needs, you must not be a very good chef.

PhoebeS
PhoebeS

@DrNikolasVanHelsing Your comparison does not work. You, as an omnivore, have no problem to eat the meat of a (formerly) intelligent, sentient being because you believe that the ten minutes of pleasure you derive out of doing so is more important than the pleasure this sentient, intelligent creature derives from being alive. As an ethical vegan I place the well-being and life of this animal over the pleasure my palate might experience when eating its meat. I use the words "might experience" because after you have been vegan for a while you find the thought of consuming meat repulsive. It's kind of like smoking; it is repulsive to pretty much everybody who does not smoke.

On the other hand, I do not know any omnivores who are repulsed by the vegan cuisine offered in vegan restaurants. The vegan restaurants I go to actually do draw quite a non-vegan crowd because a lot of people like to eat TASTY vegan foods for their health. 

DrNikolasVanHelsing
DrNikolasVanHelsing

@PhoebeS@DrNikolasVanHelsingWell, Miss S (Phoebe, if I may),my comparison does not work because garsleat's original argument is flawed. That was the point of my post.

While I will admit to liking Sharon's Blueberry Sorbet (despite the fact that it is vegan) I have to say that I do generally find vegan food repulsive.

For that reason, I do not frequent vegan restaurants, and if someone suggested eating at one I would tactfully excuse myself from that meal. Your ethical stance may be laudable, but it comes with an obvious price- you must often forego dining in establishments that do not prepare vegan cuisine, or be prepared for disappointment if you find a vegan meal prepared in an omnivore kitchen unsatisfying. As annezelek stated below: "in a world w/ menupages, there's no excuse for sitting down at a chef's restaurant whose food you don't want to eat."

You can't blame a chef for not catering to your ethos. Especially in NYC where there are at least 614 vegan spots to choose from (according to http://supervegan.com) I wouldn't go to any of those spots and say "I'm coming to eat there in 3 days and I don't eat vegetables."

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