Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, disputed creator of the molten chocolate cake and one of the most influential high-end chefs in the world, announced his intention to open a vegan, raw restaurant in New York City this spring.
In an interview with The New Potato, Vongerichten offhandedly said, "We're doing a food market that just opened, and then we're opening a vegetarian restaurant in the spring – 100% vegetarian, raw, and vegan." Later in the interview, he mused, "I think food as a science is not for me. Food for nutrition, food for well-being, food for nurturing your soul – yes." Jean-Georges doesn't mention animal welfare in the interview, perhaps understandable given that his other restaurants serve meat and fish.
Vongerichten may have a steakhouse, but he's been following the less-meat trend lately; his most recent success, ABC Cocina, is a farm-to-table affair with a heavy emphasis on local produce, and his other restaurants are known as vegetarian- and vegan-friendly.
Opening an all-vegan restaurant is another instance of Vongerichten paying attention to trends; Forbes even named "high-end vegan" one of its top food trends for 2013. Far from stir-fried tofu, restaurants like Crossroads in Los Angeles and Blossom in New York are pricey, boundary-pushing establishments that cater to the food-obsessed, not the vegan who's desperate to find a place to eat. Vongerichten will be the biggest name to enter the space so far.
Millions in the U.S. have chosen to eat exclusively vegan, and many more eat vegan one or more times per week, but the reasons vary. The most recent survey, from 2009, puts the percentage of people who don't eat meat for "moral" reasons at 71.9 percent.