Plant-based and vegan cuisine is a “growing” trend in meetings and events catering, with more hotels and event venues moving to accommodate this rapidly rising customer preference and lifestyle choice.
“I believe that there are over 20 million vegans in the U.S. now, and it’s only going to get bigger,” said Victor Miguel, executive chef at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott. “We have the impossible burger—it became huge. We had to take it off the menu because the vendor could not keep up with them.
“Now they have plant-based chicken and turkey, they have chorizo, sausage patties,” Miguel added about the explosion in plant-based options from suppliers. “Anything you can think of, they have it—all plant-based.”
[Related: Plant-Based Alternatives for Event Menus]
Miguel has noticed a spike in vegetarian cuisine requests at his hotel, too, both from guests and meeting and event planners.
“Say we have a plate-up for 1,000,” he said. We used to have about a 3% vegetarian option, now it’s up to 10%, and we do all-vegan. About 70 percent of our vegetarian options are also vegan.
“And it’s not just people who stay here; it’s people who want to come to this steakhouse to try some of the vegan dishes,” Miquel added. “That was one of the major things we wanted to change. The people who come here may not be a vegan, but they have vegan friends, and they hear the servers talk about us having vegan options.”
Bolstering their vegan options—even at its JW’s Steakhouse, where the effort was started, ironically enough—is not as complicated as it may seem, Miguel said.
“For some of the dishes I have created, I just remove one item to make it vegan,” he said, “and on the side there are choices of plant-based proteins.”
Group F&B Options
The move to offer more vegan cuisine options has also manifested itself in the hotel’s event catering offering, which can serve up to 1,500 attendees. The hotel can also serve plant-based and vegan fare for meeting breaks.
“When we created the banquet menus for events, vegan options were one of our main focuses,” Miguel said. “Just as much as we focus on the transient, we focus on the event customers, also. We have that option on the menu, and if someone requests a full [vegan] menu, we will definitely create that as well.”
Popular vegan and plant-based menu items include an avocado dome and a polenta stack that contains proteins such as edamame, market mushrooms, black beans, tomato jam and cashew mozzarella.
(Photo: Victor Miguel, Executive Chef, Los Angeles Airport Marriott; Credit: Los Angeles Airport Marriott)
An in-demand dish at the hotel’s casual Hangar 18 Bar + Kitchen is its Supreme Flat Bread option with plant-based chicken or plant-based beef, peppers, mushrooms, asparagus remoulade and Vegenaise, a vegan mayonnaise alternative.
The LAX Marriott’s Social Market + Eatery offers a traditional rice bowl that substitutes shrimp, beef or chicken with plant-based beef or chicken and also contains rainbow roasted cauliflower.
Miguel said the emphasis on plant-based and vegan fare is also a brand-wide goal for Marriott International.
“It’s the new trend out there and it’s only going to get bigger and not go away,” he said. “It’s all about taking care of our guests.”
Vegan Avocado Dome
¼ Roma seedless tomato (ahimi)
½ ounce tofu, diced small
½ ounce wakame (seaweed salad)
½ ounce diced seedless tomato
6 pieces gold pea shoots
1 ounce roasted beet puree
Soy Citrus Dressing
2 ounces soy sauce
1 teaspoon distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon grapefruit concentrate
1 teaspoon honey
½ wasabi powder
In a stainless-steel bowl, mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roasted Red Beet Puree
2 large beets
2 stalks of rosemary
2 stalks of thyme
2 garlic cloves
½ cup of water
Heat oven at 400 degrees and place all ingredients in large pot. Roast beets for approximately 1 hour until tender.
Peeled while they are still hot. In food processor blend beets and season with black pepper and salt for taste.
- In a small stainless-steel bowl, use half of the citrus dressing to marinate tomato for 45 minutes.
- In a medium stainless-steel bowl, toss seaweed, tofu and diced tomatoes with citrus dressing.
- Cut peeled avocado in half and add tomato mixture.
- On serving plate, spread roasted beet puree, place the half avocado on top of the beet puree and top with thinly sliced ahimi (tomato).
- In a small stainless-still bowl toss, golden peas shoots with olive oil, salt and pepper and garnish on top of ahimi/avocado.
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