In the kitchen at Chez Panisse, even though we have always served one set menu nightly, designed for seasonality and balance—and now even an alternative vegetarian menu—we still get an amazing number of requests for changes. We always accommodate requests based on allergies or dietary requirements, but increasingly the requests we’re hearing are rooted in a fear of food.
Our servings of meat are restrained, just a few slices. We always leave the fat on the duck breast and the fat on the pork—it tastes good, and you need some fat in your diet. Yet more and more diners are leaving the fat on the plate. It’s kind of astonishing, because the style of food at Chez Panisse emulates the best of home cooking: light-handed, vegetable-heavy. We use hardly any butter or cream, and desserts are usually based on fruit. If it’s a splurge, it’s a healthy splurge.