Storm clouds gathered over Claridge’s on Friday as the hotel’s superstar chef, Daniel Humm, 45, went head to head with hotel execs over the future menu at his Michelin Star winning restaurant (pushing for an all-vegan menu), Davies & Brook. As a result, Humm will hastily depart, but his exit is a painful win for the hotel and perhaps a sign of things to come for the industry? And were Claridges right to fight back the Vegan hoards?
It became clear that all was not well at the Brook Street institution early on Friday as Humm and Claridge’s went into crisis talks. The issue at hand? Daniel Humm’s intention to shift the award-winning restaurant to a fully plant-based menu. By early evening it was apparent that Claridge’s answer was ‘no’ and both the chef and his patrons put out respectful social media posts advising that the hit restaurant will close at the end of the year. Daniel Humm was very much the cherry on top. A culinary superstar who had created something that critics (not to mention the people from the tyre company) loved. Davies & Brook is as compelling a draw as the venerable hotel it sits in, keeping the art deco monument in the vanguard of modernity. But perhaps not too modern. Humm’s intention to take his restaurant fully plant-based was too much. Daniel Humm’s flagship restaurant, New York’s three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park, made the switch this summer, with Humm shifting a restaurant famed for its caviar and foie gras to a fully plant-based menu. It’s unlikely to have gone unnoticed by Claridge’s that the critics have not been kind to Eleven Madison Park since, with a bumpy transition and a menu that’s widely considered to not be ‘there’ yet. It’s not clear if Claridge’s have seen the numbers, but they’ve certainly viewed the model and decided it’s not for them. And while Humm wields considerable influence in New York, he does not on this side of the Atlantic. Glaring into the abyss of upsetting guests, critics and, potentially, ignominiously losing their coveted Michelin Star, it as possibly a very rational decision to part ways.
Humm’s statement made clear that ‘the future for me is plant-based. This is our mission and what we stand by as a company’. It seems highly likely that he will look now to open a plant-based restaurant elsewhere in the capital. Meanwhile, Claridge’s should have no trouble finding a top chef willing to take on a space that has previously hosted restaurants by Gordon Ramsay and Simon Rogan. Claridge’s parted ways with kind words, ‘We wish him nothing but continued success as he spearheads this bold new vision’.