Andrew Carmellini is the executive chef for A Voce restaurant in New York CIty. In 2000, Carmellini was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine. He also won the James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef, and was nominated as Best Chef in New York City by the foundation in both 2002 and 2004.
Question: Would you ever take meat off the menu for environmental reasons?
Andrew Carmellini: It’s interesting, you know, comments about food, how it relates to the environment and different ethical issues when it comes to food. There are a lot of different facets of that. The problem is that it’s not my, it’s not about my choice putting things on the menu. It’s consumer choice. Americans like to eat meat, you know? They like to eat meat more than fish and more than vegetables. That’s just the plain facts. So, you know, if I take my pork chop off the menu, or I take my chicken off the menu, it ends up being a business decision. You know, philosophically and kind of like environmentally, yeah, I would like to make those choices, but I need people in my restaurant, and I like to make people happy, you know, through cooking, and it’s what, even before I became like Chef Guy. But that becomes a decision, you know, sure if everyone that walks through the door wanted to claim environmental superiority and only eat tomatoes or whatever, which are also a problem because there’s transport, there’s methane gas that gets used to help ripen them. You know, meat isn’t the only issue there. There’s, you know, there’s other areas of food production that have environmental implication, absolutely. If you had, if you had berries in your cereal this morning, okay, they weren’t grown in upstate New York. Well, they would have been if it was July or August. There’s going to be some kind of carbon footprint, you know, that’s there. You know, there was a restaurant that when— back to my wife, when I first met her, she was doing her masters in Vancouver, and there was a restaurant in Vancouver Island that just fascinated me, and it’s called Sue Carver House. And it’s a little Inn on Vancouver Island ran by a guy named Sinclair Phillip who only wanted to cook things from the Island, from Vancouver Island, and he was doing it successfully. And the day I pulled up there for lunch, there were two guys in scuba gear coming out of the water with a bag of sea creatures, and they were cooks that dumped this bag of sea creatures in the tank behind the kitchen. And I was like, whoa, what is this place? And they had a garden there and they were growing all kinds of vegetables that this guy, you know, had took from the wild and was now growing them in a garden, and interesting stuff, too, like knotting onions and tuberous nasturtiums and all these indigenous plants. And we went there in the summertime, and we had this amazing meal with, part of the reason it was amazing was because of the setting and also because there was all this stuff I never saw before. Well, I went back in March and it was like everything was made with kale and like potatoes and cabbage. I like kale, potatoes and cabbage, but not a whole meal with potatoes and cabbage. So, you know, there’s implications when you want to eat locally all year around and it’s truly just choice.