Something is cooking.
In late March, it was revealed that Daniel Humm, chef/owner of Eleven Madison Park, was on the spot Hot and Heavy with Demi Moore and out in 425 Park, the new skyscraper where he’s long wanted to have a restaurant.
The events were the latest dramatic turns in both the personal and professional lives of Humm, who was once at the helm of the city’s most prestigious restaurant empire with former business partner Will Guidara. In 2017, EMP was ranked #1 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It was the crown jewel of a rapidly expanding hospitality company, Make It Nice, which also included bustling NoMad and party pop-ups in the Hamptons and Aspen. But in 2019, Humm and Guidara abruptly split. In the years since, Humm has disrupted the restaurant world with a growing string of high-profile romances, a sudden pivot to veganism, and a string of failed business deals.
“Once he started getting really famous, he started dating all these celebrities and influencers,” said an insider, noting that Humm was rumored to have dated Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell and that he built a reputation for that he was more concerned with pleasure than business, with food festivals in faraway places.
In 2019, shortly after Humm and Guidara’s split broke, it was revealed that Humm and Laurene Powell Jobs — Steve Jobs’ widow and mostly longtime vegan — were dating. She has “allowed me to see myself more clearly, and I can be more myself by knowing her.” Humm told Vanity Fair about their relationship. “She inspires me every day.”
Perhaps it was her influence that led to a shocking announcement in spring 2021: Humm would be reopening the restaurant with an all-vegan menu. “The current food system is simply not sustainable,”he told the New York Times. The new edict came shortly after news that EMP would retain the three Michelin stars it had had for years.
But the shift to veganism may not be sustainable for Humm’s career. Last October, EMP’s vegan menu received a scathing 0-star rating in the New York Times. The review also revealed a tasteless hypocrisy: Those who booked a private dining room could still order meat.
“The mistake we all make is [we think] We’re going to break down the barriers and be instantly successful, and for Chef Humm he’s sort of starting over,” Amanda Cohen, the chef at popular downtown vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy, told The Post. “It’s really kind of a complete re-branding. It would be like deciding to open an all-meat restaurant,” she said. Cohen noted that she had an increase in the number of EMP staff coming to “check out the competition.” Admiring Humm’s bold moves, she says, “I’m very impressed that he stuck to his guns.”
But some aren’t so impressed and think it’s a backfire.
“There’s a way to eat meat right and actually regenerate the earth and respect the animal you’re raising,” said Ariane Daguin, founder and CEO of D’Artagnan, which supplied natural, organic, free-range poultry and meat and Foie gras to EMP for years. “I feel let down.”
A second anonymous food insider also claimed that Humm still eats animal products. (It was nice previously reported that Humm’s diet is 90 percent vegetarian.) Humm commented neither on this nor on other topics.
At the end of 2021, the five-star Hotel Claridge in London parted ways with Humm over his vegan vision for his local restaurant Davies and Brook. It’s “not a path we want to follow,” she said the hotel said in a statement.
Taking to Instagram, Humm said, “Standing behind this mission and what we believe in is the most important thing and unfortunately we cannot compromise.”
He released a similar statement late last month after news of the failed deal at 425 Park hit.
“It makes me sad to have to leave this project,” he said on Instagram. “But I knew in my heart that I needed to double down on my values and commit to what I believe is right for our community and our planet.”
The 46-year-old chef also appears to have said goodbye to Jobs, 58, and given his heart to Moore, 59, although it’s unclear when.
Just last September Vanity Fair explained Humm and Jobs “an emerging power couple of the art world”. In June, he’d bought a $14.5 million Greenwich Village condo that certainly fit that image, as did an enduring friendship with running pal Vito Schnabel.
The second insider claims the couple split after Powell Jobs left him for her personal trainer.
Meanwhile, on a recent Tuesday night, the once impossible-to-book EMP was about 70% full. An email sent to prospective customers on March 31 announcing the opening of the reservation book for May was full of cute jokes and a hint of desperation.
“There’s a lot of resistance and it’s pretty impressive that he’s given up all these businesses to hold on to his ideals,” Cohen said. “That’s a lot of money and a lot of resources and a lot of exercise for his company that he won’t have.”
Those who have worked and are working with Humm say he is not one to give up.
“If his heart is on a plant-based future, then he will be 100% committed to it,” said Bryce Shuman, former EMP Executive Sous Chef. “He’s not a person who really does things by halves.”
But his determination might not be enough to make a $335 plant-based vegan menu hot.
“There are doubts in the culinary world as to whether he can prepare the type of food that is popular with a mass audience, or whether he even cares,” the restaurant world insider said. “A lot of people don’t think he’s really keeping up with how people want to eat.”
https://nypost.com/2022/04/05/veganism-might-ruin-eleven-madison-park-chef-daniel-humm/ Veganism could ruin Eleven Madison Park chef Daniel Humm