Imagine colour, flavour, fine ingredients, different tastes and textures, all in a unique gourmet presentation, and the result is a picture of the dishes on the new Four Seasons Hotel’s Vegetarian and Vegan Menu. Created by award-winning vegetarian chef, Eddie Shepherd, the plates are inspired by nature’s patterns and infused with contemporary twists.
Yiannos Gregoriou, Group Food & Beverage Manager, introduces the hotel’s objectives: “We identified the need for better and more varied vegan and vegetarian dishes and began to search for a suitable partner to train our chefs. Eddie Shepherd and his Restaurant ‘The Walled Garden’ in the UK appeared repeatedly in our searches and discussions. Soon after we contacted him and discussed our objectives, it became clear that Eddie was our man.”Discovering Cyprus produceOnce at the hotel, Eddie and the team focused on a modern approach. He says, “I was able to present new techniques to the chefs, such as cooking with seaweed stock and specific Japanese methods; but I also found that Cyprus has amazing local produce – pomegranates, halloumi cheese and kolokasi are all intriguing.”Eddie completed two trips to the hotel, first to research the ingredients and convene with the chefs, then to present sixteen recipes for testing and tasting. He notes, “I met exceptional people at the Four Seasons, everyone is highly trained and dedicated; plus, the traditional culture of hospitality means they are genuinely engaged in their work.” From traditional to trendingEnsuring that the new dishes were of the same calibre as other à la carte offerings was essential to achieving a menu that both vegetarians and meat eaters would enjoy. Nick Aristou, Executive Director at the Four Seasons Hotel, points out: “Having Eddie here was a trump card for the hotel and once again demonstrates that we take cuisine in all its variations very seriously and are always on the lookout for ways to keep our gastronomy relevant and to the highest standards.”The Four Seasons chefs immediately took up the challenge set for them. They allocated separate areas in the kitchen and dedicated time to learning new disciplines – how to prepare, handle and combine the ingredients. As Eddie says, “Fundamentally, people want something amazing to eat and taste, something different to keep it interesting.” And with so much vegetarian food being standard and predictable, Eddie chooses to celebrate the magic of gourmet vegetarian and vegan by creating a menu defined by small dishes and intense flavours with trending ingredients fulfilling their own purpose, rather than being a meat substitute. Philosophy in the kitchenEddie brought more than culinary knowledge to the kitchen, as he also has a degree in philosophy. He says, “Being a chef and an academic works well, especially when researching vast amounts of information and pulling out specifics on new techniques.” Taking the art of cooking to this next level was inspirational for the Four Seasons team who learnt how to completely transform rich ingredients into treasured recipes – potatoes into mousse, oyster mushrooms and strawberries into tortillas, tofu into tempura. Such magic is hard to conjure up, but the result is an eclectic menu which will be adopted across both the Four Seasons Hotel and its sister hotel, the Amathus. As Nick Aristou says, “At the tastings to decide which final dishes would be included in the menu, the judging committee was blown away. As a lifetime omnivore I can honestly say that some of the dishes on the vegan and vegetarian menu would be my first choice anytime!”Click here to view the menu