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

  • Online calls to #BoycottSearsCanada over treatment of ex-employees

    Economic Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — Sears Canada is facing a social media campaign calling for a boycott after the company said it planned on paying millions in bonuses to keep executives on board during restructuring, despite not offering severance to laid-off workers. Source
  • Sears Canada faces online calls for boycott over treatment of ex-employees

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Sears Canada is facing a social media campaign calling for a boycott after the company said it planned on paying millions in bonuses to keep executives on board during restructuring, despite not offering severance to laid-off workers. Source
  • BBC women demand immediate response to gender pay gap

    Economic CTV News
    LONDON -- Some of the BBC's most prominent female journalists and TV presenters are banding together to demand that the broadcaster fix its wide gender pay gap immediately rather than in several years as management has proposed. Source
  • New airport security rules and brewing beer battles: CBC's Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

    Economic CBC News
    Miss something this week? Here's the consumer news you need to know from CBC-TV's Marketplace. Get this in your inbox every Friday. Sign up here. Flying to the U.S.? Read this "Enhanced" security measures went into effect this week for Canadians travelling to the U.S. Source
  • Credit agency pushes feds to give it access to list of social insurance numbers

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- An international credit reporting agency is pushing the federal government to give it access to a monthly list of new social insurance numbers despite years of rejections over privacy concerns. TransUnion made the request anew earlier this year, shortly after Patty Hajdu became labour minister, to access the list that contains the range of social insurance numbers issued each month in various regions of the country. Source
  • Canadians set record with U.S. real estate shopping spree

    Economic CBC News
    New Brunswick's Joel Levesque had no idea he was helping set a record when he bought a home in Fort Myers, Fla., back in April. The 63-year-old semi-retired public affairs professional wanted a place to escape for the winter and didn't feel like waiting around for the loonie to gain ground on the greenback. Source
  • Debt got you down? Start a debt-destruction club

    Economic CBC News
    If you run, hide, or plug your ears every time the topic of money comes up, you're not alone. But as the era of ultra-low interest rates comes to an end, you need to force yourself to face your finances. Source
  • Ontario transit agency won't let Bombardier bid to operate commuter trains

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Ontario's transit agency has decided not to appeal a court ruling favouring Bombardier but will exclude the Montreal-based company from bidding to continue operating GO Transit trains as it has done for decades. Source
  • Business groups blast Ontario labour proposals on last day of consultations

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Unions and advocacy groups made one last effort Friday to sway the Ontario government on its plan for sweeping changes to the province's labour laws, with some sounding the alarm about what they deem drastic measures and others arguing the proposal doesn't go far enough. Source
  • Marijuana companies band together to develop marketing guidelines

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Sixteen of Canada's licensed marijuana producers have enlisted the help of Advertising Standards Canada to develop guidelines on how the drug should be branded and promoted before its recreational use becomes legal next year. Source