If you take one part missionary, one part ambassador, a dash of rabble rousing activist and mix with a massive heaping of culinary experience, then stir up more passion than you think is possible… voilà, you’ll have a pretty fair idea of what makes chef Doug McNish an icon and a leader in plant-based cuisine.
The award-winning Canadian executive vegan chef, author, consultant, and brand spokesperson has been at the forefront of the plant-based culinary movement for well over a decade now. With his restaurant Mythology, three best-selling cookbooks (and a fourth on the way), recipes featured in magazines, appearances on national television shows in Canada, as well as a faithful YouTube and social media following, Chef McNish is challenging people’s attitudes to what vegan food is, and to what a vegan fine dining experience can be. His latest undertaking? Leading the culinary experience at the Radisson Blu Royal Park Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden.
Ulrich John, a passionate humanitarian and entrepreneur, saw an opportunity to create the hospitality of the future, and offer hotel guests more than just a place to sleep for the night. His idea was for people to experience a holistic hotel experience. He wanted to develop Royal Park Stockholm into one of the world’s top destinations for high end hospitality and plant-based food. So he jumped on a plane; destination Toronto, to meet with Doug McNish and explain his vision to the chef. The chef liked what he heard and agreed to collaborate.
My goal is to make your brain go wow when you taste plant-based food. If I can get you to do that, then I feel I’ve been successful. This is the future of food.
– Doug McNish
The result is the development of Royal Park Stockholm: a joint collaboration by Ulrich John and Doug McNish. With Ulrich John and his team ensuring that the Royal Park Stockholm is both the destination and the experience for guests. A special hotel “vibe” that offers a holistic experience and something unique, intangible and feel-good for all categories of guests; thanks to the tranquil surroundings, health club, plant-based dining experiences, spa, pool and themed events. Along with Chef McNish in the kitchen, developing tasting menus continuously, in addition to delicious, culinary plant-based dishes and adding his touch to the concept through his leadership, expertise and cooperation.
A chef with a mission
Fast forward to Stockholm, August 2019, and a newly arrived Chef McNish and the team have started the work to make their vision of turning Royal Park Stockholm into mecca of plant-based dining, a reality.
McNish sees a large part of his role in the collaboration with Ulrich John and team ”to excite people and inspire them, as well as to get them to understand that vegan food is better than traditional food.”
– I’m a chef and I’ve spent the past 21 years in the kitchen. I know that with the right mix of acids, spices, textures, and flavors and exceptional visual presentation, you can create food that is far more delicious than traditional food.
From standing on the front lines of animal rights protests, to selling food at farmer’s markets and working his way up the ladder in kitchens in his home town of Toronto, McNish has developed his knowledge of the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, along with his repertoire of raw and vegan recipes, step by step.
– When I went vegan 15 years ago, I quit my meat cooking job because I knew that I had to follow my heart. I had no idea that the vegan movement would become what it is today, or that it would generate the big industry that it has now. I had to take a leap of faith because I could not in good conscience be involved with such an inhumane career path any longer, McNish says.
Turning traditional food vegan – and better
Many of the dishes that he is creating for Royal Park Stockholm are adapted from long-time favorite recipes created at Public Kitchen; McNish’s legendary first vegan restaurant in Toronto that was also a carryout store and teaching kitchen. Much of the chef’s early success at Public Kitchen was down to his ability to offer ‘veganized’ classic dishes for his guests.
Imagine traditional Eggs Benedict, with a runny poached egg yolk. Now imagine that same dish, but with McNish in the kitchen bringing his conviction and years of experience to the table, literally and figuratively: the “egg” is made with protein and plant- based ingredients. Yet, it’s as runny as the real thing, and the dish still has all its savory, smoky flavor. This should give you an idea of the culinary chemistry and food wizardry that McNish is capable of.
– My goal is to make your brain go wow when you taste plant-based food. If I can get you to do that, then I feel I’ve been successful. This is the future of food, McNish says.