With strong El Nino conditions around the globe, restaurants in New York are feeling the pinch in higher vegetable prices. The changes in weather and rainfall patterns have reduced both the quality and the abundance of the vegetables that are available. Not only are restaurants are feeling the pinch, but grocery stores are feeling it as well.
“Cauliflower has tripled in price from under $20 a case to about $60, and we weren’t able to get broccoli rabe at all at the end of December,” says Enrico Proietti, owner of Italian restaurant Bella Blu on Lexington Avenue in New York City.
According to Albert Wu, owner of China Fun on the Upper East Side, the price of scallions are what really jumped up in price, going from $15 to $50 per shipment. This has left many restaurants little alternative but to raise prices or to remove signature vegetable items off their menus for the time being.
For those restaurants that depend on the ready abundance of vegetables, it can mean changing what is offered slightly. Substitutions, at least for now, have seemed to become the norm. Some restaurateurs are opting to get some of their produce from Mexico rather than paying higher domestic prices.
That means that you may be hard-pressed to find cauliflower or broccoli rabe to put on your salad plate, at least until springtime or until this current El Nino condition breaks.