It’s human nature to resist change. We all have our daily routines and habits that we have grown accustomed to. We all have a coffee shop that makes our lattes just the way we like it, know a bar with the best deal for happy hour drinks, and of course, have go-to restaurants, the kind we see as more of a hang out spot than just an eatery. For many meat-loving foodies around New York City, this place is the Bourgeois Pig, an upscale restaurant that has become known for its extensive cured meat selection and overall cool vibe.
What some patrons of the eatery may not know, however, is that the Bourgeois Pig is one of the 15 bars and restaurants that owner, Ravi De Rossi, will be turning vegan. That’s right, despite the immense popularity De Rossi’s 15 locations have had over the last decade or so, next month the Bourgeois Pig will be killed off and then resurrected in a whole new form with a completely new name: Ladybird. So why would the successful restauranteur risk everything in this manner? Simple. The on-and-off vegan is determined to shed more light on plant-based food and the fact that it can be delicious too. The decision came after De Rossi truly realized the huge influence he had in the food space and frankly feeling that he had been putting his energy in the wrong direction. His new mission? Show everyone that eating consciously doesn’t just mean salad and hummus, it can actually be incredibly inventive and most importantly, delicious!
Unfortunately, not everyone is as excited as De Rossi about the change. In fact, it seems that with a month left until the restaurant gets its makeover, many of Bourgeois Pig’s regulars are disgruntled and not hesitating to let De Rossi and chef Daphne Cheng know. While he admits that he can understand the bitterness to an extent, he feels confident that he is making the right decision. Avant Garden, his vegan restaurant brainchild, as well as his tiki bar and restaurant Mother of Pearl, have both seen great success in the past year even after the menu overhaul which is not really much of a surprise. With a talented chef like Daphne Cheng and the years of experience that De Rossi holds, if anyone can succeed at making a unique and tasty menu that can get people of all dietary preferences excited, it’s them.
“People are already upset about it, because they’ve been going there for twelve years,” De Rossi shared with the Village Voice. People are even taking to social media to air their grievances. “There’s been a lot of good feedback,” Chef Cheng says, but “I’ve seen a lot of hate in the comments on articles that have come out, like ‘Vegans suck.’ I don’t know how we’ve cultivated so much hatred, but we’re trying to fix that.”
Despite these criticisms, De Rossi seems more than capable of zooming out and seeing the undeniable bigger picture: people are embracing vegan food. Whether it’s on the consumer side with people choosing milk alternatives over dairy and getting excited over an impressive new meat alternative, or from the producer side with culinary institutions urging chefs to gravitate towards plant-based cooking, De Rossi knows that this up-and-coming movement is nowhere close to slowing down. Some people may feel like De Rossi is crazy for making such a huge and drastic change, but the restauranteur frankly does not care. As Steve Jobs once said “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” De Rossi is clearly just crazy enough to try, and for that, we applaud him.
Image Source: Avant Garden