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The 2021 Met Gala Has A Plant-Based Menu And It's Revolutionary

Food becomes a force to be reckoned with at this iconic fashion event

The Met Gala has always been a night to celebrate fashion. This year, it will also be about food. With the theme “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” the event is geared to be a more intimate celebration compared to previous years, but it's also one that embraces  more aspects of American culture, from the dress code and fashion to the menu. For the first time, The Met will have a sustainable, plant-based menu of canapés, entrées and desserts representing regional American cuisine.

Ten chefs were handpicked by celebrity restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson to create and curate a menu representing regional American cuisine. Samuelsson, who is a consultant with Bon Appetit, said in an exclusive interview that Anna Wintour had asked him to “go for people with unique stories to tell” in addition to being at the top of their game. 

The chosen ten include restaurant owners, cookbook authors, media personalities, and food advocates — ranging from up-and-coming chefs to people who have helped define New York City’s dynamic food scene. “They represent what the food scene in New York today looks like… what the next generation of food looks like, tastes like, where it lives,” said Samuelsson.

Emma Bengston is the first female Swedish chef to win two Michelin stars for her restaurant, Aquavit. Fabian von Hauke is the man behind tasting-menu restaurant Contra. Nasim Alikhani built Sofreh, one of New York’s hottest restaurants, at the age of 59. Junghyun Park is the rising star behind Korean fine dining restaurant Atomix. Erik Ramirez is the man behind Peruvian restaurant Llama Inn and it's offshoots, Lama-San (a Japanese-Peruvian concept) and Llamita. Simone Tong opened Yunnanese noodle place Little Tong Noodle Shop in the East Village. 

Media personalities include Lazarus Lynch, the two-time winner of Champion and host of Snapchat’s first ever cooking show, Chopped U Sophia Roe is the host of Counter Space on Vice TV.

Finally, there's American-Ethiopian Fariyal Abdullahi, the culinary manager of R+D Kitchen, whose recipes featured in the cookbook “A Place at the Table: New American Recipes from the Nation’s Top Foreign-Born Chefs.” While Thomas Raquel, the pastry master at three-Michelin starred Le Bernardin, has Filipino roots.  

Each chef contributes a recipe that is their unique interpretation of American cuisine, creating a collaborative menu of canapés, entrées and dessert that reflects each chef’s talent and individual story. And for the first time, The Met Gala’s menu will be plant-based. 

Samuelsson said it felt natural to bring the plant-based conversation to The Met Gala  “Both industries (food and fashion) respect craftsmanship,” he explains, in an interview with Bon Appetit. “Being a chef is all about working a lot with style, with people. It’s the same thing with fashion. It’s a different medium, but you’re really expressing a point of view, a sense of place.” The decision to go plant-based also reflects the modern American palate at a moment in time when plant-based menus are springing up everywhere from fast food restaurants to fine dining spaces like iconic Eleven Madison Park. “We thought it was important to really talk about what’s present, what’s happening —how food is changing in America.” 

The full menu will still be revealed, but foodies everywhere can follow and even recreate each chef’s “Summertime Picnic” recipes shared on Instagram under the hashtag #MetGalaChefs

In the past, catered meals were usual for The Met Gala. This is the first year that food takes center stage along with the fashion. “We hope the food will spark a conversation,” says Samuelsson. “I’m excited about hopefully starting a tradition where, next spring, the audience will come for the food as well.”

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Lead photos: @voguemagazine, @cultivatehospitality