“Rage or fear… It oscillates. Rage I need to motivate me to try things that I can’t ordinarily do - as I’m a lazy man. Fear - to keep pushing harder so we don’t lose what we’ve accomplished.”- David Chang
A startup that sells 'bloody' plant-based burgers has a new factory that can make 4 million burgers a month
(Melia Robinson/Business Insider) Impossible Foods, a tech company on a mission to reinvent our definition of meat, is launching its first large-scale production facility to help bring its plant-based “bloody” burgers to the masses.
Based in Oakland, California, the factory will produce at least one million pounds of meatless meat per month — or four million burgers — once the site is up and running later in 2017.
At an event to unveil the factory, CEO and founder Pat Brown called it “the birthplace of a whole new industry.”
Impossible Foods, which has raised $182 million in venture capital from the likes of Bill Gates, Google Ventures, and Khosla Ventures, has been surrounded by buzz since its burger debuted at Chef David Chang’s restaurant Momofuku Nishi last summer. Foodies travel from far-away places to try the burger at the eight (mostly high-end) restaurants that serve it, while others track its whereabouts with the persevere nce of Apple fans scouring for iPhone 8 leaks.
The Oakland factory will increase Impossible Foods’ production capacity by 250 times, allowing the company to supply burgers to more than 1,000 restaurants in the future and introduce its flagship retail product within the next few years.
The facility offers the first evidence that Impossible Foods will not remain a boutique, Silicon Valley-esque obsession and may actually meet demand in a wider market.
(Impossible Foods is opening its first large-scale production facility in Oakland, California.Melia Robinson/Business Insider)
Impossible Foods was founded on the idea that there’s a better way to satisfy people who enjoy meat. The world’s population could reach nine billion people by 2050, and there aren’t enough resources on the planet to support sustainable animal agriculture at that scale. As it stands, animal agriculture takes up about a third of the world’s land, and is responsible for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Brown, a molecular biologist, left his teaching job at Stanford University in 2009 to make a veggie burger that meat-lovers will actually want to eat. The Impossible Burger is made of wheat and potato protein, coconut oil, additives found in processed foods, and a not-so-secret ingredient called heme — a molecule that carries oxygen through the bloodstream in animals and through energy-producing mechanisms in plants. It smells and even bleeds like real meat.
I tried the Impossible Burger for my second time at the factory’s opening. The patty has crispy, caramelized bits on the outside and a pink, juicy center. For me, this biggest giveaway that I was eating something other than beef was the slightly rubbery, mushroom-like texture.
As the company gains the ability to produce at scale, its new challenge may be convincing average Americans to make the switch from meat to an alternative. Most veggie burgers resemble hockey pucks more than beef, as Brown likes to say. Still, he’s optimistic.
“Being made from animals has never been part of the value proposition of meat. It’s just been inseparable from what consumers do value, which is deliciousness, nutritional profile, and so forth,” Brown tells Business Insider. “As soon as they experience [the burger], they can now disconnect things they value from the way it’s made.” In other words, eating is believing.
(Melia Robinson/Business Insider)
The company will continue to roll out the burger in restaurants, where Brown says consumers can expect consistently great experiences trying the burger.
Starting this week, Californians can find the Impossible Burger in three new restaurants: KronnerBurger in Oakland, Public House in San Francisco, and Vina Enoteca in Palo Alto. The burger will appear on the menu at 11 restaurants nationwide by the end of the year.
The company fields a huge volume of requests from restaurants that want to serve the burger, according to Brown. Impossible Foods is deliberate in its selections.
“The chefs we work with aren’t just great chefs, they’re great meat-chefs. It’s a very effective way to communicate to consumers that if these people are willing to put their reputations on the line to serve this product, you can have confidence that you’re not going to have a crappy experience,” Brown says.
Healthy Monday: In Korea, cooks typically create stir-fries with just one kind of vegetable—lotus root, say, or potatoes. Star chef David Chang decided to break with tradition and stir-fry an assortment of vegetables, including Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips. Also unconventional is the maple syrup he adds to the dish; there are maple trees all around South Korea but not much maple syrup.
Back before Lucky Peach was a magazine and Mind of a Chef was barely a glimmer in anyone’s eye, David Chang headed to Tokyo with a film crew to explore the ever-expanding ramen scene in the city where he’d once lived. Ivan Orkin hadn’t written an English-language cookbook yet, nor had he opened any ramen shops in America. This is the first time the two chefs met, and the background story of Ivan’s rise to international ramen fame.
Healthy Monday: Chef David Chang was inspired to make these playful rolls by a snack he had at Yunpilam, a temple in South Korea, where the nuns served him edamame mixed with walnuts and molasses. His rolls have an edamame-and-walnut filling; unlike other sushi rolls, they can be served warm.