Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse Brings Vegan Burger Pop-Up to Paris

Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse

Alain Ducasse, the legendary French chef, has just inaugurated his first vegan burger idea, Burgal, a kiosk in Paris’ Place de la Bastille. The chef owns more than 80 businesses, ranging from restaurants to chocolate stores, with the majority of them focusing on fine dining. With Burgal, which combines the words “burger” with “vegetal,” Ducasse provides burgers composed completely of vegetable ingredients, like zucchini, lentils, onions, quinoa, carrots, and parsnips in a patty.

The burger is topped with eggplant caviar, a spicy vegan mayo, and pickles and served on a vegan bun. The burger comes with a side of veggie or chickpea fries, as well as vegan chocolate mousse for dessert.

“We are not in the field of imitation meat. Our products contain no additives or dyes and it is not our intention to move towards meat analogs… It is the first vegetable burger of our group. The origin is to be found a few years ago, and to the irritation of Mr. Ducasse, in seeing people ruining their health and the planet by eating low quality hamburgers,” Quentin Vicas, development director for the Ducasse group, told French media outlet Liberation.

The pop-up will be open until June 30, and if it is a hit, Ducasse plans to bring the vegan burger to his other restaurants.

Michelin-Starred Vegan

Ducasse has earned 21 Michelin stars over the course of his four-decade career, putting him in the company of chefs such as Jol Robuchon and Gordon Ramsay. Burgal is Ducasse’s first entirely vegan idea, but he has long been a proponent of meat-free cooking and recently established Sapid, a new restaurant in Paris where Ducasse reimagines French cuisine as vegetable-forward with animal ingredients used mainly as spice.

Although Ducasse is a culinary titan, he is not the first Michelin-starred chef to experiment with plant-based food. Chef Daniel Humm stated last year that famed New York City fine-dining establishment Eleven Madison Park will return as a largely vegan restaurant after a pandemic-induced hiatus, with milk and honey available for tea service. The new Eleven Madison Park menu emphasized the variety and beauty of vegetables, including beets that were prepared for 16 hours and served in a clay jar.

In light of the present climate catastrophe, Humm boldly updated the menu at the famed eatery—previously known for its honey lavender duck and other animal-centric dishes—to explore more eco-friendly choices. “In the midst of last year, when we began to imagine what Eleven Madison Park would be like after the pandemic—when we started to think about food in creative ways again—we realized that not only has the world changed, but that we have changed as well… It was clear that after everything we all experienced this past year, we couldn’t open the same restaurant,” Humm said.

Despite some early criticism, Humm is continuing to innovate at Eleven Madison Park with a new spring menu that focuses on exquisite preparations of seasonal vegetables, such as Carrot Tartare with Sprouts and Anise, Celery Root Tamal with Chestnut, and a radish course that includes Roasted Radish Broth, Black Truffle and Radish Tart, and Marinated Radish Salad with Horseradish and Sea Fennel.

And, like Humm, an increasing number of Michelin-starred chefs are experimenting with new menus and ingredients that are kind to animals and the environment. Marco Pierre White, the first British chef to receive three Michelin stars, has altered the menu at his 22 steakhouse locations in the United Kingdom with the inclusion of whole-cut vegan lamb and beef from Israeli firm Redefine Meat. And Gordon Ramsay, who was formerly a loud opponent of veganism, has embraced the movement with new menu items at his restaurants throughout the world, a push to promote Silk’s oat milk, and regular dives into vegan recipe testing.

Fine dining has always been about exploration and innovation, and with the ongoing climate crisis, Michelin-starred chefs are looking for new methods to keep their menus interesting without harming the environment. Dominique Crenn, the first woman to receive three Michelin stars in the United States, is doing it by looking at produced meat as the next chapter in culinary innovation. The chef has collaborated with Northern California food-tech firm UPSIDE Foods as a chef ambassador, and she hopes to add its produced chicken to her Atelier Crenn menu in San Francisco, pending regulatory permission, where she hasn’t served meat from land animals since 2018.


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