Head chef at Ston Easton Park Hotel, Daniel Moon, shares his top tips on catering for vegetarian diners in innovative ways.
As a previous Acorn Award winner, 2 AA rosettes currently to his name, and having previously obtained in his previous establishment the coveted third. Moon also continues to aspire to having a future Michelin star. Sourcing around two thirds of his fresh ingredients from the gardens of the hotel itself, Moon is committed to creating fresh, innovative dishes, for both meat eating guests and those who favour the ‘veggie option’ both with equal focus. Here, Moon shares his top tips, to help inspire more hoteliers and restaurateurs to vamp up their vegetarian menus and step things up a notch.
• Live and breathe diversity
Make sure your vegetarian diners have a good choice across all courses of the meal. If they choose a cheese based dish for starters, the likelihood is they may not want something with cheese for main. Stuffed peppers or risotto seem to be the staple of any vegetarian’s diet, so if you’re going to include them on your menu, they’d better be awesome!
• Care for your vegetarian diners
It can be tempting to focus all your attention on meat and fish dishes, and casually throw some vegetarian options on as a bit of an afterthought. But is this really fair to your vegetarian customers who are just as excited to dine with you? Really put some thought, care and great ingredients into your vegetarian offerings. This is a sure way to keep customers coming back time and time again to find out what vegetarian treasures you have on offer.
• Aim to inspire, not just to satisfy
Including vegetarian dishes should not simply be a box ticking exercise. Aside from planning outstanding vegetarian meals with top quality ingredients, throw in some creativity too and really inspire them to try new flavours. You never know, you might find you tempt a few of the carnivores over to the green side too!
• Be prepared for vegetarian choices
Do the prep work as you would with any other meal. Make sure your vegetarian dishes are ready to go when you open for dinner, because there’s nothing worse for a veggie than feeling they are different to other diners.
• Love your vegetarian menu
It’s important to me that my vegetarian menu is as tasty, as inspiring and as well received as my A La Carte or Tasting menus. Be proud of what you’re offering, and sing the praises of your lovingly crafted vegetarian dishes at every opportunity. Promote them on your website, talk about them on social media, and give them as much care and attention as you would your meaty masterpieces.
Daniel’s vegetarian tasting menus for both lunch and dinner really sets the bar high for veggie friendly dining, and includes culinary delights such as horseradish and roasted beetroot gnocchi, onion foam and blue cheese beignet as well as desserts such as buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb sorbet.