Daniel Patterson continues to be our city’s greatest chef! No, that is a lie, he still cooks and eats animal products, and I just don’t see how you can be the very best if you’re not vegan. But he is seriously amazing. He loves vegetables, and made this amazing soup (some of us have dreams about that soup), and honestly we could watch him make these beet roses all day. Never mind eating them, just watching him do it.
It’s fascinating in the way those Sesame Street segments about how things get made are—the one about crayons is one of the best things I have ever seen in my life. Those cheerful employees are most likely unemployed/dead now, replaced by robots/Mexican workers paid less than $1 a day. American progress!
But, Daniel Patterson, he’s just wonderful. He gave a really interesting two-part interview (1, 2) to Eater, which you should definitely read. This beet rose, holy cow, it’s so deliberate and painstaking and turns out so beautiful, it makes me tear up. I don’t even like beets! This is why restaurants. This is why “vegetable cuisine.”
Watch this: Daniel Patterson’s Go-To Summer Soup »
Remember Archie, the tiny “chef” who helped his daddy cook this soup that I have now made variations of at least 20 times because it is so good and also Archie and his daddy are so freaking adorable? We now have a rival father-son soup-making video, courtesy Chow’s “My Go-To Dish” series: this video features super-fancy chef Daniel Patterson (of Coi! and Plum!) and his kid making a summertime soup of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, beans, purslane, and basil. And things! It looks SO GOOD, you guys.
"Home is not a pursuit of perfection; home is pursuit of dinner. One of the things that’s really unfortunate is the fear of doing something wrong. Because you have to do things wrong. It’s like, how you learn, and if you’ve got good ingredients and you’re trying your best, in the end it’s gonna be fine." —Daniel Patterson, 2011 and FOREVER. Indeed it is! Kitchens are like chem labs for eating, they’re amazing and fun!
You may think you love Daniel Patterson now, but wait till the end of the video when he CHASES HIS SMALL SON AROUND THE HOUSE WIELDING HIS TINY BABY BEFORE HIM. You guys all I want is space for a small garden—herbs, a couple greens, vertical tomatoes—and a bunch of animals and babies. OK and the internet, I love the internet. But for real, let’s all adopt animals and small children and grow our own food and be friends with the neighbors and make this chilled eggplant soup. This is the summer of our aspiration. Yes, we aspire to soup. Shut it, soup is the best.
Take me to Plum right now! »
Grub Street SF got lots of pretty pictures of the dishes on Plum’s menu, and oh happy day!, even without our beloved vegetable chef, there are a number of vegetable-friendly items. For example, this beautiful soup!
Mushroom Dashi with yuba, tofu, and greens
Doesn’t it look lovely? Oh PLUM. Oh Daniel Patterson, you wonderful man with your wonderful vegetables. Look at this menu! I count about nine other dishes with vegan potential.
A proper review with your Vegansaurus’ signature underlit photos and totally relevant digressions coming up soon! Please excuse us today, we are having “technical issues.”
[photo by Brian Smeets/Grub Street]
Measuring “gastronomic value” »
"Carrots are the new caviar," according to Daniel Patterson in the Financial Times. Patterson is the chef and owner of Coi, one of a handful of haute cuisine restaurants in San Francisco that serve vegetarian specialties alongside meat dishes.
Patterson says that modern haute cuisine végétarien began when a French restaurant stopped serving meat during a 2001 European outbreak of BSE; instead of failing, as expected, the restaurant, l’Arpège continued to do excellent business. The next time someone asserts that “the French” wouldn’t stand for vegetarian or vegan food (Bourdain!), you can tell them that l’Arpège was very successful during its vegetarian period, and that stereotyping French people is kind of over (at least among the set who would rather not be associated with freedom fries).
Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic, assembled a list of six haute cuisine restaurants in the city where the chefs prepare vegetarian and vegan dishes with the same skill and creativity that they put into their meat-ful ones. I was surprised by all of them, though considering how infrequently I dine out on the fancy, that is not so big a deal.
After checking out the list in detail, I especially want to go to Coi and Fleur de Lys. Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys was the “first high-end French chef to offer a vegetable tasting menu,” (currently $70) in 1992. Coi is consistently rated as one of the top five best restaurants in San Francisco—extra-impressive for a restaurant whose chef only prepares “two or three” (out of 11!) dishes with animal products per menu. This menu will run you $125 per taster.
Dan Barber of Blue Hill in New York, who grows his own produce and raises his own animals for his restaurant, does a tasting menu with lots of vegetables too. Barber says that “plants grown from seeds adapted to their place [are] the new luxury,” and Patterson explains further that “by creating associative value in certain ingredients…[they] can have a trickle-down effect on the market by stimulating demand.” That is, demand for more high-quality produce, as opposed to some other type of animal or animal product.
Ultimately, what this means for us vegans is that as these famous chefs invent new techniques for cooking flora, our fine-dining choices expand. As omnivores find themselves eating vegan food at their usual haute cuisine restaurants, they learn not to fear and loathe the idea of cruelty-free dishes. As demand for fancy vegan food increases, chefs at smaller/lesser-known/not-so-fine restaurants put more vegan items on their menus. Then we have even more choices, and a vegan diet becomes more mainstreamed; that is pretty all right. Now go out and demand fantastic vegetable preparations: it is your duty as a citizen of the world to increase demand for fine vegan dining.