Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods believes it has engineered a meat-less burger that tastes identical to beef. Only a small number of restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have had the Impossible Burger on their menus since it launched in 2016.
Now, vegetarians and carnivores alike will have a better chance at tasting it — at least in New York City.
Starting February 2, the Impossible Burger will launch at Saxon + Parole and the Michelin-starred Public. Both restaurants are under the leadership of Executive Chef Brad Farmerie.
“People in New York know that you can get the best meat in the world here,” Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown tells Business Insider. “Farmerie has chosen to serve our burger as meat, which sends the message that the best meat in the world doesn’t have to come from animals.”
Instead of beef, the Impossible Burger contains heme (the molecule that gives beef its reddish colour and metallic flavour), textured wheat protein, and coconut oil.
In early 2016, three casual dining restaurants in California and Momofoku Nishi in NYC started carrying the Impossible Burger. That spring, celebrity chef and owner of Momofoku Restaurant Group David Chang praised the way the patty sizzles and “bleeds” on the griddle.
“Today I tasted the future and it was vegan: this burger was juicy/bloody and had real texture like beef. But more delicious and way better for the planet. I can’t really comprehend its impact quite yet…but I think it might change the whole game,” he wrote on Facebook.
Impossible Foods has received backing from Bill Gates and Google Ventures, among other investors. The company — which is in the process of developing plant-based steak, bacon, fish, chicken, milk, and cheese — sees its products as a small way to combat climate change.
Raising chickens, pigs, and cattle already takes up 30% of the Earth’s surface and produces an estimated 18% of all human-caused greenhouses gases. The process of making an Impossible Foods burger uses 95% less resources than traditional livestock, according to Impossible Foods COO David Lee.
Convincing consumers to ditch beef burgers for plant-based ones is still a challenge for the startup, but Lee says having rockstar chefs like Chang and Farmerie onboard will inch the Impossible Burger towards the mainstream. Plus, Brown says that the Impossible Burger will also launch in grocery stores within the next few years.
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