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Veg out at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts-

Publish Date : 14-Jan-2010
14, January, 2010

- Remember when “vegetarian option” meant a plate of rice and frozen vegetables?
TORONTO, January 14, 2010 – Eating your vegetables, once a foreboding dinner-time injunction of childhood, is not as fearsome as it used to be thanks to today’s smart, creative, eco-thinking chefs. 

According to research commissioned by a US-based vegetarian research organization, 50 percent of diners surveyed say they will sometimes, often or always order a dish without meat, fish, or fowl when eating out.  More than half of US chefs surveyed rate vegetarian entrees among their top 10 trendiest menu items, according to a US restaurant industry association.

Celebrated authors such as Michael Pollan, Mark Bittan, Jonathan Safran Foer and Sophie Uliano tout the advantages of eating home-grown greens for the sake of personal as well as global health. The industrial production and processing of livestock requires a great deal more energy and takes a bigger toll on the environment than vegetation. As a result of increased public awareness, many diners are opting to reduce their meat consumption, if even for a few meals.

The Green Partnership Program at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts encourages its Chefs to work with local purveyors and harvest food from their own kitchen gardens to lower carbon emissions and reduce the need for excessive packaging and deliveries from long-haul suppliers. Chefs benefit by having more control over the provenance of their ingredients and a great abundance of rich, fresh, seasonal vegetables that are exciting the palates of vegetarians and omnivores alike.

According to the chefs at Ottawa's Fairmont Chateau Laurier, guests are expressing more cosmopolitan tastes for multicultural flavours, with homemade Chickpea Curry as one of their most popular dishes. Chef jW Foster at The Fairmont Dallas agrees and has created Garam Masala Spiced Potato Samosas using tandoori-roasted cauliflower from his own garden, serving it with pineapple-mango chutney, mint raita and house-grilled naan. His Gorgonzola-Pear Ravioli uses ingredients harvested in Texas, while his Taro Root Dumplings with star-anise glazed carrots from the hotel's rooftop garden are served in a lemongrass-miso broth and garnished with roasted coconut.

At The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, Executive Chef David Garcelon pays special attention to banquet guests, for whom vegetarian dishes are often an afterthought. “We feel it is essential that our vegetarian guests are offered a meal every bit as flavourful and colourful  as the rest of our banquet offerings,” says Chef Garcelon. One of his most popular creations is Fire-Roasted Ontario Tomato stuffed with Eggplant, Black Rice Risotto and Sweet Pea Emulsion.

Dishes such as Stir-fried Asparagus with Wild Mushroom & Osmanthus Flower; Baby Vegetable & Sweet Potato Mash with Truffle Jus; and, Spaghetti with Olives, Basil & Organic Vegetables may sound daunting to make at home, but education and instruction was the goal when Fairmont Singapore Chefs Sebastian Goh and Jeremy Teo spent two days whipping up healthy and organic dishes for a public series of culinary workshops. Dishes were chosen for their nutrition, ease of preparation and emphasis on organic ingredients.

In Kenya, Chef Hubert Des Marais relies on his tropical herb and rare fruit gardens at Fairmont The Norfolk and Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and his relationships with local farmers to create everything from his exotic Sweet Pea & Mint Bruschetta to Kenyan Sweet Potatoes and warm sugary Mandazi.

Fresh, light, health-conscious eating is what inspires Chef Cory Ledrew at The Fairmont Banff Springs.  “Consuming lighter choices on our menu ensures I feel crisp and ready to move, like I have properly fueled my body,” says Chef Ledrew. By no means does this require a life-sentence of salads. Chef Ledrew’s Tomato Tart is filled with organic greens, six types of beans, two types of beets, three types of carrots, freshly-picked local tomatoes and stuffed with fresh herbs and edible flowers from his own herb garden.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise's Executive Chef Felix Pfister has taken note of the growing demand for vegetable-based proteins and finds vegetarian meals are often overly high in carbohydrates and fats. “We take a more balanced and imaginative approach,” says Chef Pfister who uses ancient grains like amaranth, kamet and quinoa for great nutritional value and heightened sensory appeal.

Ultimately, a sense of community lies at the heart of guests’ growing demand for fresh local produce, according to Executive Chef Collin Thornton at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii.  “We are experiencing a cultural change and this creates excitement and challenges for a chef.” Thornton rises to the occasion by showcasing some of the Big Island’s finest offerings in his Lemon-Scented Edamame Risotto, featuring roasted Waimea sweet corn, Hamakua tomato, Alii mushrooms, organic watercress and freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

Whether it’s a fingerling potato pulled from the fertile countryside of Monaco and delicately placed on a diner’s plate at The Fairmont Monte Carlo, the exquisitely prepared Three-Cheese Pomme Blinis at The Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda or the Tomato Carpaccio with Avocado Goat Cheese Mousse at The Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, it’s clearly evident that eating your vegetables has come a long, long way.
 A selection of recipes and photos are available upon request.