Will we meat again? – Reinventing the Veggie Burger
by Paul Pisani
New York chef and restaurateur David Chang introduced the revolutionary “bleeding” veggie burger earlier this year, developed by ‘Impossible Foods’, a Silicon Valley upstart based in California and founded by doctor of medicine and scientist Patrick Brown. They are a company rapidly gaining ground in the hugely competitive food environment and have impressive ambitions to feed the world.
Dubbed the “Impossible Burger,” the product was only available at Chang’s New York restaurant Momofuku Nishi. However, the burger is now making an appearance in California, where it can now be found on the menu of three high-profile restaurants. In San Francisco, both Jardinière and Cockscomb will offer the Impossible Burger, along with Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles.
Brown’s concern was the with the world use of meat and the strain on the planet’s precious resources. As a whole, the human race remains largely unwilling to give up meat and resources are not limitless, especially with pops, action numbers increasing year by year.
With this in mind, Brown set out to develop a product that tastes, smells and sizzles exactly like meat, however, made entirely from plants, including wheat and potato proteins, coconut oil and other ingredients — including one specific molecule called “heme” that occurs naturally in all plants and animals, and gives meat its red colour and meaty flavour.
Traci Des Jardins from Jardinière says her restaurant will serve the Impossible Burger with caramelised onion, avocado, special sauce and a side of pomme frites, for $16 in the bar and lounge.
“The Impossible Burger is a delicious and provocative way to begin an important dialogue about food: how it tastes, where it comes from and where we go from here,” she says.
At the vegan restaurant Crossroads, chef Tal Ronnen has favoured a more classic presentation with lettuce, tomato, pickles and house sauce, with truffle fries on the side, for $14.
“Everybody wants to do the right thing when it comes to the environment — but if it doesn’t taste good, you’re not fooling anyone,” Ronnen says. “That’s what makes Impossible Foods such a game-changer for conscious eating.”
At Cockscomb, known for its whole-animal philosophy, the Impossible Burger will come with caramelised onions, lettuce, gruyere, pickles, Dijon and mixed greens. The burger is priced at $19.
Brown has incredible aims and is confident he can help create a sustainable food system that could feed 9 billion people by 2050. A full range of Impossible products are coming, including pork, chicken, fish and dairy.
The development of this product has major support too, Impossible Foods has big-name financial backing from Khosla Ventures, along with Bill Gates, Google Ventures, Horizons Ventures, UBS, Viking Global Investors and others.
If it tastes as goods they claim it does, the burger market may never be the same again. Great news for cows, the environment and the health conscious alike.