Chef Alain Ducasse Opens Vegan Burger Pop-Up: Here’s Where to Find It
Chef Alain Ducasse is changing how the world views plant-based foods. For decades, upscale dining culture rejected vegan cuisine, but now, Ducasse is part of a group of chefs embracing plant-based foods, opening his first vegan burger concept Burgal – a blend of the words "vegetal,” or vegetable in French, and “burger.” The internationally-acclaimed chef launched this new plant-based pop-up as a kiosk in the Place de la Bastille in Paris this week.
Ducasse – a chef who has been awarded 21 Michelin stars and operates more than 80 restaurants worldwide – recently began shifting towards more sustainable, plant-based foods. With Burgal, Ducasse is looking to provide customers with an accessible plant-based option while maintaining his view that vegetables should look like vegetables, not meat. Burgal’s concept menu features a specialty burger made from zucchini, lentils, onions, carrots, parsnips, and quinoa.
The veggie-packed burger also receives its fair dose of fine dining. Ducasse’s new signature plant burger will be topped with pickles, spicy vegan mayo, and eggplant caviar, all served in a vegan bun. Customers can order the plant-based burger as a meal that comes complete with a side of vegetables or chickpea chips. The concept will also showcase a dairy-free 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,” Quentin Vicas, development director for the Ducasse group, told French news outlet Liberation. “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.”
The plant-based burger pop-up will run for a limited time as Ducasse decides whether or not to add this plant-based burger to his restaurant mainstays. The vegetable burger will be available in Paris until June 30. Ducasse’s culinary research teams have spent months experimenting with plant-based substitutes to perfect the taste and texture of this new signature dish.
"We took a long time to find the right texture and the right seasoning, " Head of Ducasse’s “New Terrestrial Foods," Department Pierre Zerouali said. “We wanted to make a vegan and gluten-free galette. So we couldn't use eggs, which usually ‘hold’ the fillings. We had to find substitutes.”
Throughout 2021, the fine-dining culture worldwide incorporated plant-based cooking into menus more than ever before, but Ducasse’s plant-based ventures began more than half a decade before. In 2014, the French chef announced that he would remove meat from the menu of his Michelin-starred restaurant inside the Plaza Athenee hotel in Paris. The decision kicked off the chef’s “Naturalite” mission that prioritized plant-centric cuisine across most of his restaurants.
Last September, Ducasse opened a new restaurant in Paris – Sapid – that features a 95 percent plant-based menu. The vegetable-forward dining experience aims to revolutionize the gastronomy culture in France as well as the international food scene. Instead of incorporating meat alternatives, the chef intends to highlight the vegetables.
“What has changed is the attention paid to how we eat better. Both men and women are careful about their health,” Ducasse said when the restaurant opened “It was natural that we should be able to demonstrate that it is possible to create a restaurant where only plants are the reference.”
Michelin-Starred Chefs Embrace Meat Alternatives
Before last year, Michelin judges would overlook vegan cuisine with minimal exceptions when considering fine dining. In 2021, vegan and vegetarian restaurants managed to receive 81 Michelin Stars, marking the most groundbreaking year for plant-based fine dining. Now, more chefs than ever have shifted their focus to sustainable alternatives that include plant-based and even cell-based foods.
Renowned chef Dominique Crenn – the brain behind San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn – announced that she would partner with UPSIDE Foods to introduce a cell-based chicken to her menu. By doing so, Crenn would become the first US chef to serve lab-grown meat, presenting a shocking development from the chef who nixed meat from her menus in 2018.
Other Michelin-starred restaurants including Din Tai Fung have released fully vegan menus. Din Tai Fung debuted five new plant-based noodle and wonton dishes at its 13 locations around the United States as customers become more likely to order plant-based.
With more chefs recognizing the value of plant-based foods, inventive vegan dishes continue to sweep across the fine-dining world. In Los Angeles, Michelin-starred chef Josef Centano reinvented the menu of his Tex-Mex restaurant Bar Ama to heavily feature So Delicious’ vegan cheese.