Cauliflower crisis: Restaurants pull signature dishes as price of produce soars

TORONTO -- The soaring price of cauliflower is forcing restaurants offering signature dishes featuring the popular cabbage relative to rethink their menus and hike prices.

See Full Article

Over the past few years, the vegetable once considered boring has been springing up on menus in innovative ways.

Some roast it whole, while others serve it as a taco. Others please their vegan diners by using it to create a cheese sauce substitute.

However, the sliding loonie and a drought in California have helped drive cauliflower prices toward double digits a head, causing a cauliflower crisis. At least one restaurant chain famous for its take on cauliflower is passing on some of the extra costs to its customers.

In Vancouver, diners frequent Nuba restaurants just to taste Najib's Special, said founder Victor Bouzide. The dish, named after his father, is a crispy cauliflower concoction based on his grandmother's recipe.

Since the new year, Bouzide's raised the price by about a dollar. A plate now costs $13, while the appetizer runs customers $9.75.

"We can't give it away," he said in an interview.

The restaurant now pays more than double what it used to for a case of the cruciferous vegetable, up to $60 a case. That means Nuba needs 100 cases a week to feed its cauliflower-loving customers.

Still, Bouzide can't fathom discontinuing the dish, like some others have opted to do.

Toronto's Fat Pasha drew accolades for its whole roasted cauliflower head when it opened in 2014. About a month ago, the offering disappeared from the menu.

"As much as people love it, if we're losing money on it or we're charging too much, no one's going to feel good about it," chef Kevin Gilmour said.

The dish cost $18, he said, but with the cost of the main ingredient, the restaurant would have to charge up to $40 for it now.

That just wasn't viable, said Gilmour, who replaced it with a local, more price-consistent option: acorn squash.

Squash may be the next go-to ingredient for chefs looking for a new heir to cauliflower's popularity since many other vegetables, not just cauliflower, are steadily increasing in price.

Celery, cucumber, tomatoes are all slowly taking themselves out of the running.

"If it's not a root vegetable or it's not a squash," Gilmour said, "then chances are it's gone up significantly."

Edgar Gutierrez, the chef at Rostizado in Edmonton, has been experimenting with the fennel with some success. He thinks fennel could be versatile enough to resonate with diners this year.

Still, he says he's keeping his popular pan-roasted cauliflower with pork fat on the menu, at a higher price than before, because of high demand despite the extra cost to his bottom line.

"It's not easy to create excitement around a vegetable," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Carillion Canada says it's soldiering on despite U.K. parent's financial woes

    Economic CBC News
    A spokesman for the Canadian subsidiary of insolvent British construction giant and state contractor Carillion says it's business as usual in Canada despite the parent company's collapse on Monday. Cody Johnstone says that Carillion Canada is not in liquidation and its 6,000 employees in Canada continue to be paid, along with its subcontractors and suppliers. Source
  • McDonald's sets worldwide recycling goals

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- McDonald's says it aims to use all recycled or other environmentally friendly materials for its soda cups, Happy Meal boxes and other packaging by 2025. The world's biggest burger chain also wants all of its 37,000 restaurants worldwide to recycle customer waste by that year. Source
  • Canadian natural gas industry a 'sad story': analyst

    Economic CBC News
    A prominent commodities analyst struck a gloomy tone as he delivered a blunt assessment of the Canadian natural gas industry's fortunes this year, describing it as a "sad story." In front of a few hundred oilpatch members at the Calgary Petroleum Club in the city's downtown, commodities analyst Martin King admitted his Tuesday morning presentation for gas was one of his most negative. Source
  • Nutrien to sell Israel Chemical stake for expected US$700 million

    Economic CTV News
    SASKATOON -- Fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. says it plans to sell all of its holdings in Israel Chemicals Ltd. in a secondary share offering for an expected US$700 million. The sale comes as one of the requirements set out by global regulators for Potash Corp. Source
  • Australia files WTO complaint against Canadian wine sales measures

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Australia has filed a complaint about Canada's rules around wine sales with the World Trade Organization. The complaint filed Friday argues that Canada's distribution, licensing and sales measures discriminate against imported wine. Source
  • Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- A trade association for Canada's beer industry wants the federal government to stop its plan to annually increase a tax on the alcoholic drink. Beer Canada has launched a new campaign calling on Canadians to sign a petition asking Finance Minister Bill Morneau to axe the escalating beer tax. Source
  • Instacart buy Unata as it plans Canadian expansion

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- American grocery delivery service Instacart says it has bought Toronto-based technology company Unata to ramp up its expansion efforts across Canada. Instacart's chief business officer Nilam Ganenthiran says the acquisition gives the company access to Unata's digital flyer, loyalty, e-catering and list-building capabilities. Source
  • Australia complains to WTO about Canadian rules on selling wine

    Economic CBC News
    Australia has complained at the World Trade Organization about the rules applied to the sale of wine by Canada and various Canadian provinces, a WTO filing showed on Tuesday. "It appears that a range of distribution, licensing and sales measures such as product markups, market access and listing policies, as well as duties and taxes on wine applied at the federal and provincial level may discriminate, either directly or indirectly, against imported wine," Australia said. Source
  • 'Twice the headache': Why it's getting harder for Canadians to enter U.S.

    Economic CTV News
    Amid negotiations over possible changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, an immigration lawyer says it’s becoming more difficult for Canadians to cross the U.S. border for work. In 2016, more than 1.1 million Canadians were granted temporary visas to work in the United States. Source
  • N.S. gives payroll rebates to Ernst and Young for new 'centre of excellence'

    Economic CTV News
    HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government has awarded payroll rebates to Ernst and Young as the professional services firm establishes its first Canadian-based Global Centre of Excellence for Robotic Process Automation Service in Halifax. Nova Scotia Business Inc. Source