Chef Antoine Westermann of NYC’s Le Coq Rico Endorses Meatless Monday

April 23rd, 2018


His mother had 365 different ways of cooking vegetables. Now, Chef Antoine Westermann of Le Coq Rico, shares his family’s culinary wisdom with meatless diners. Opened in New York City in 2016, “Le Coq Rico” translates to “The Bistro of Beautiful Birds” and was created to be a celebration of poultry. His other passions include sustainability and the Slow Food Movement – both of which are closely aligned with Meatless Monday. Now, every Monday for lunch, Westermann features a meatless special on his menu as the Plats du Jour, or dish of the day.

We asked Chef Westermann about his decision to bring Meatless Monday to Le Coq Rico.

No pun intended, but people flock to Le Coq Rico for the poultry dishes. What has the response been to the introduction of Meatless Monday?

Honestly, I thought about what I eat myself. I often eat meals without meat. In fact, if I’m not sure about the quality and origins of the meat available, I leave it, and elect to cook a vegetable dish instead.

Beyond this, I’m simply a vegetable lover. I have my own vegetable and herb garden. I was also raised in a family where vegetables were at the table for every dish.  My mother had more than 365 ways of cooking them, and she inspired me a lot. I could say vegetables are in my culinary roots!

 

As a chef who specializes in serving poultry, what led you to the decision to introduce Meatless Monday in your restaurant?

Without a doubt, I’m a poultry obsessee and have been forever. However, in my previous culinary life as a 3 Michelin-star chef, I used to work hand-in-hand with my gardeners [growing vegetables]. That was fascinating to me. Later, when I opened a bistro in Paris in 2003, Mon Vieil Ami, I decided to make the concept a tribute to my mother’s vegetable-focused cuisine. As I mentioned, she had so many recipes for vegetables. She could cook a different one every day! The bistro became very popular. So, when I heard about Meatless Monday I was immediately in!

 

What other ways do you practice sustainability at your restaurants? How does it factor in to how your restaurants are run?

My entire team is very sensitive to sustainability in their daily activities from the kitchen to the floor management. We work with farmers and producers at Union Square Green Market (in New York City) for greens and vegetables. For cheese, we work with Aissa O’Neil of Betty Acres Farm. We have personal relationships with all of our producers. But it’s still a work in progress, we’re always looking for ways to become more sustainable.

 

Will Meatless Monday be coming to your Paris location? Do you expect the same kind of response as the one you received in New York?

We really want to work with Meatless Monday in Paris! I think it’ll be coming to that menu soon…

 

When you create a meatless dish, what ingredients are your favorites to work with?

Vegetables are a world unto themselves and I really love to play with all of them. There’s such a diversity of flavor! I love slow cooking them, steaming them, poaching them, and experimenting with ways to highlight and increase their natural flavor. I love giving these flavors a small twist. For instance, steamed carrots served hot with a vinaigrette made with walnut oil and apple vinegar topped with roasted hazelnuts. That’s heaven to me!

We’re excited to share Chef Westermann’s Meatless Monday Plat Du Jour recipe, Seasonal Vegetable Baeckeoffe Try it at home on Meatless Monday. Take a photo, post it to social, use #MeatlessMonday and tag us @MeatlessMonday to let us know what you think!