Less Meat is More at Anaviv’s Table

Above: At the Futurewell Sustainability Summit, Chef Arnon and a Plant to Plate intern grill peaches for dessert at a dinner at Stemple Creek Ranch. Photo: Jamie Grenough Photography

The chefs at Anaviv’s Table have added a new intention for their Richmond restaurant’s unique one-seating, set-menu dining experience. Thursday night dinners now give vegetables and grains center stage and include less meat while still providing a fully satisfying meal.

The idea came about after the restaurant’s chefs, Arnon Oren and Kadie Vita, collaborated with Alice Waters on a meal that emphasized “meat as a side dish” for attendees at Futurewell, a local sustainability summit held in September. The chefs decided to replicate this idea for their Thursday dinner service moving forward.

“The problem is not the meat, it’s our modern food system,” says Anaviv Table’s communications director Jaime Dooley. Rather than simply substituting animal protein with another ingredient, the chefs are thinking critically about how to create dishs that are exciting but also reduce the impact of the carbon footprint. An example is a dry-aged beef carpaccio made of thinly sliced Marin Sun Farms beef. It shows how a smaller amount of meat, reinvented, can be transformed into a valuable experience that brings joy to the diner but also helps to mitigate the negative environmental consequences associated with the traditional, large centerpiece of a grilled steak.

By relying less on meat, “the meal becomes intricate, with more dimension,” says Dooley. This “pushes us to explore the vast array of spices, grains, and legumes,” adds Chef Oren. Through this careful curation of ingredients, these meals at Anaviv’s Table serve as a valuable reminder that less can, in fact, be more.

—By Meredith Pakier