With its sustainability mindset,
Impossible Foods Inc., Redwood
City, California, came at its plant-based Impossible Burger from a
decidedly scientific approach. Its
beef-imitating burger patty is made
from such items as wheat, coconut
oil and potatoes, but its burger-mimicking magic ingredient is heme.
The company describes heme as
a basic building block of life that
exists in plants and is also abundant
in meat. “We discovered that heme
is what makes meat smell, sizzle,
bleed and taste gloriously meaty,”
according to the company website.
The company further states,
“compared to cows, the Impossible
Burger uses 95% less land, 74%
less water and creates 87% less
greenhouse gas emissions.”
In addition to restaurants,
Impossible Foods is aiming at the
noncommercial foodservice market
with Bon Appétit Management
Company, Palo Alto, California, as a
supporter. Bon Appétit Management
Company runs more than 1,000
cafes for universities, corporations
and museums in 33 states.
Environmental sustainability and
animal welfare is the ethos behind
the plant-based Beyond Burger by
Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat.
Company investors include Bill
Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio and former
McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson.
The product is cholesterol-, gluten-and soy-free and contains pea
protein among its many ingredients.
The company aimed to give
customers the traditional burger
experience from what looks, cooks
and tastes like ground beef without
Foodservice operators aplenty
have gone with the Beyond Burger
patty, including Applebee’s, TGI
Fridays and Epic Burger. Recently,
foodservice distributor Sysco entered
a partnership to carry the Beyond
Burger, making it widely available to
IMPOSSIBLE AND BEYOND
JODY SHEE, AN OLATHE, KANSAS-BASED FREELANCE WRITER AND EDITOR, PREVIOUSLY WAS EDI TOR
OF A FOODSERVICE MAGAZINE. SHE HAS MORE THAN 20 YEARS OF FOOD- WRITING EXPERIENCE AND
WRITES THE BLOG W W W. SHEEFOOD.COM.
of rice and rice blends, exotic grains and legumes, that worked
together to adequately offer protein, texture and flavor.
The Black Forest Blend contains green lentils, split baby
garbanzo beans, French green lentils and black beluga lentils.
The Naked, Wild & Free blend features oats, wild rice, red
sorghum and white sorghum. Besides the two blends, Johnson
included parsley, spinach, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, shallots,
panko breadcrumbs and fresh-squeezed lime.
His trial and error to obtain the proper mouthfeel led him to
hard-pulse about 65% of the ingredients in a Robot Coupe, light
pulse 15% and keep the rest whole. “I ended up with a mixture
fully blended that was binding,” he says.
To top the burger, he made tomato and avocado relish with
heirloom grape tomatoes quartered and tossed in fresh aromatics
with a bit of garlic, salt and pepper combined with avocado.
Johnson advises chefs who would add a plant-based burger to
the menu to consider the sustainability mindset of customers who
order it, and be prepared to tell a story that will resonate with them.
For example, a mixed burger available on campus is made partly of
beef and partly of mushrooms obtained from a mushroom farm 36
miles away that the college partners with. Students go to the farm
and pick mushrooms that will be eaten on campus. It becomes part
of the story, creating an experience for the customer.
Michael Neflas, corporate executive chef of BOA Steakhouse
with a location each in West Hollywood and Santa Monica,
California, was laboring in the kitchen trying to develop a
portabella and quinoa burger with red beets for color and including
coconut oil. He added nutritional yeast to achieve the umami
flavor he was after, but was unable to obtain consistent results.
Then he came across the plant-based Beyond Burger that, along
with the plant-based Impossible Burger, is emerging in the market
to mimic real beef in flavor, texture, appearance and sizzle.
“We were able to get Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger and
liked it. It has great flavor and sears nicely for a nice crust,”
Neflas says. So he went with it, and had only to develop toppings.
The lunch menu features the Vegan “Bacon” Guacamole Burger
with a Beyond Beef patty on a vegan brioche bun, while the
dinner menu has the Wild Mushroom Burger with a Beyond
Beef patty, arugula aioli and truffle on a potato bun.
The patty so convincingly tastes like real beef that, in
the first month, at least six customers sent it back thinking
they had accidently received real beef. After a year on the menu,
overall, customers love the burgers and don’t feel put off by
eating something so similar to beef, Neflas says.
He believes the Beyond Burger is a better choice than the
Impossible Burger, because it is gluten- and soy-free. “In LA,
that’s important,” he says.
OPPOSITE: BOA Steakhouse uses the plant-based Beyond Burger in its two vegan
burgers, including this Wild Mushroom Burger.
TOP: Beyond Meat developed the plant-based Beyond Burger patty with
environmental sustainability and animal welfare in mind. It mimics a beef burger.
BOTTOM: Impossible Foods Inc. developed the plant-based Impossible Burger with
heme as the key natural ingredient found in meat that makes it smell, sizzle, bleed
and taste “meaty.”