London-based fine dining French restaurant Gauthier Soho will transition over to a completely vegan menu, according to owner and head chef Alexis Gauthier. As reported by Big Hospitality, the vegan chef revealed his plans to turn the restaurant plant-based at the National Restaurant Congress in London earlier this month.
“[PETA] were saying I was a horrible person because I was using foie gras,” Gauthier said.“Then I thought about it and started to listen to what people had to say about the suffering of animals and thought ‘what am I here for?’ Is this really the future?”
According to Gauthier, the restaurant serves an average of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of the controversial French food foie gras per week. However, the transition, which the restaurant hopes to complete within the next 18 months, may not come at the expense of losing an established customer base. A representative told LIVEKINDLY that the Gauthier Soho “Les Plantes” vegan menu, which launched two years ago, is a hit with customers and celebrities like Stella McCartney, Al Gore, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Will.i.am.
Speaking to the transition, Gauthier said: “While it is hard to make this choice because of some existing customers’ love of our classic French meat and fish dishes, actually it is customers driving this move. For example, our ‘Les Plantes’ vegan tasting menu gift cards now outsell classic tasting menu gift cards by 2:1. I think we will have to just slowly convince our beloved regulars.”
While French cuisine is traditionally heavy in ingredients such as meat, fish, and butter, the success of chef Gauthier’s vegan menu among its customer base proves otherwise. Earlier this year, the classically trained chef partnered with animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and BOSH! to release a recipe video for his vegan foie gras, called “faux gras.” By using a base of lentils, walnuts, mushrooms, and shallots, Gauthier is able to imitate the flavor and texture of “the real thing.” Traditional foie gras is made from duck or goose liver; the animals are force-fed through a metal tube so that their livers become toxic and fatty.
Gauthier Soho is not the only classic French restaurant to transition to a plant-based menu. New York City-based vegan French restaurant Delice + Sarrasin previously served eggs and dairy, but decided to go vegan in October 2016. Veganizer, a restaurant consulting firm that specializes in helping omnivore restaurants transition to a menu without animal products, reported that it saw a 350 percent spike in gross sales following the switch.
Image Credit: BOSH!