Lab-Grown Burger

Here are two nice articles about the Lab-Grown Burger taste test that happened this week.  Some media folks even call it Frankenburger. It’s certainly one more tip about how the world’s food context is changing in the next years. For bad or for good. What’s to come regarding the food production sector, mainstream or alternative, is being developed in many different directions as a response to our contemporary changes. While our environment struggles, money talks and there are some people running for new answers. We must also remember the role consumers play in all this food future design that’s being made… No more to add, I leave you guys with the lab-grown, Frankenstein-like burger. Enjoy.

From The Guardian

Lab-grown beef hamburger

All it took was a little butter and sunflower oil and, in less than 10 minutes, the world’s most expensive burger, grown from muscle stem cells in a lab, was ready to eat.

“I was expecting the texture to be more soft,” said Hanni Rützler of the Future Food Studio, who researches food trends and was the first to get a taste of the synthetic beef hamburger at a lavish event in London on Monday that bore more resemblance to a TV set than a scientific press conference.

The lack of fat was noticeable, she added, which meant a lack of juiciness in the centre of the burger. If she had closed her eyes, however, she would have thought the cultured beef was definitely meat rather than a vegetable-based substitute.

The fibres had been grown in the lab and bound together, coloured with beetroot juice and shot through with saffron to complete the burger that, from a distance at least, looked perfectly ordinary. The chef tasked with cooking it was Richard McGeown of Couch’s Great House Restaurant in Polperro, Cornwall, who said it was slightly more pale than the beefburgers he was accustomed to but that it cooked like any other burger, was suitably aromatic and looked inviting.

American food writer and author of the book Taste of Tomorrow, Josh Schonwald, was next up to take a piece of the precious burger. He said he had never been pleased by meat substitutes but, after chewing a bit, gave it full marks for its “mouth feel”, saying it was just like meat and that the bite felt like a conventional hamburger.

But he also noted, several times, the absence of fat or seasoning. “I can’t remember the last time I ate a burger without ketchup,” he said, when trying to explain whether or not it compared well to a real hamburger. Later in the tasting he described the texture as “like an animal protein cake”.

Lab-grown beef hamburger Dr Mark Post with his lab-grown hamburger

Mark Post, the scientist behind the burger, which took three months to make, said the ambition was to improve the efficiency of the cell-growing process and also to improve flavour by adding fat cells. He wants to create thicker “cuts” of meat such as steaks, though his would require more tissue engineering expertise, namely the ability to grow channels – a bit like blood vessels – that can feed the centre of the growing steak with nutrients and water. Similar technology had already been shown to work for medical applications, said Post.

The €250,000 cost of making the burger was paid by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who said he got into the idea for animal welfare reasons. In a film to mark the taste test of the burger, he said that people had an erroneous image of modern meat production, imagining “pristine farms” with just a few animals in them. “When you see how these cows are treated, it’s certainly something I’m not comfortable with.”

Dr Post’s team at Maastricht University used the money to grow 20,000 muscle fibres from cow stem cells over the course of three months. These fibres were extracted from individual culture wells and then painstakingly pressed together to form the hamburger that was eaten on Monday. The objective is to create meat that is biologically identical to beef but grown in a lab rather than in a field as part of a cow.

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Photographs: David Parry/EPA

From Vice

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As the world’s population hurtles toward an estimated 9 billion by 2050, global food shortages are becoming a very real problem. In no sector is this more apparent than the meat industry. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that around 70 percent of all agricultural land on Earth is currently used for meat production. It also predicts the demand for meat will increase by more than two thirds in the next 40 years as the middle classes grow in newly industrialized countries in Asia and South America.

Aside from awful humanitarian and animal cruelty issues, the meat industry is thought to have a significant effect on global warming since belching, farting livestock produce huge quantities of methane—a greenhouse gas 33 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. It’s obvious that the meat industry as we know it is unsustainable, but for the vast majority of us the prospect of turning vegetarian is pretty grim. Vegetables aren’t filling, Tofurkey tastes like wet Band-Aids, and the prospect of mass-farming insects to squish into Boca burgers makes me want to sew up my mouth and anus.

Fortunately, Professor Mark Post thinks he’s come up with a way for us to save the planet and gorge until we get the meat sweats. Unfortunately, it’s not all that cost effective yet.

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By harvesting muscle tissue from a living cow, Professor Post is able to cut the tissue into individual muscle cells. Each cell can then yield up to one trillion more, which will then naturally join up to form new muscle tissue. Five years and approximately $384,000 after he started, Professor Post had created the world’s most expensive burger patty, ready for an unveiling and tasting ceremony in London. As the world’s media descended on the presentation in Hammersmith, I went along to see if “cultured beef” really was the savior the meat industry needs.

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The tasting was taking place in Riverside Studios—the former home of Brittish shows Top of the Pops and Dr. Who. When I arrived I had to line up with the rest of the media in a corridor filled with portraits of famous comedians.

The one thing I learned from this experience is that journalists love puns. I heard, “Cultured beef? Is that beef that enjoys the opera? [relentless chortling]” about ten times before we even got into the tasting room. It was enough to make the portrait of Al Murray (perhaps the least funny man to have ever been given a TV show in England) holding a giant chicken seem like the best visual gag I’d ever seen.

The event kicked off with the above informational video, which was a sort of hybrid between the science videos you watch in school and a Shark Tank pitch. Despite that, you should probably give it a watch anyway as it explains the science of cultured beef in groovy, easy to understand graphics. Also, it means I don’t have to stretch into the depths of my tenth-grade biology knowledge to try to explain how people are growing edible meat in Petri dishes nowadays.

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After the video, Professor Post took to the stage and unveiled the burger. This was it—the moment we’d all been waiting for. He pulled a burger-size Petri dish from a cooler, opened it up, and there it was: a $384,000 beef patty. I’d love to say that the true significance of this moment resonated with me, but the truth is I was sitting very far away and could barely see anything. Plus, as grand in scale as the patty’s prospects might be, connecting to lab-grown mincemeat on an emotional level is pretty tough.

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The tasting was presented by Nina Hossain from ITV London. Here she is interviewing Richard McGeown, the chef in charge of cooking the burger. You could tell he was a little nervous about ruining it. Which is understandable, considering the burger was—pound for pound—probably the most expensive piece of food ever cooked in the history of humanity. And burning a piece of meat that’s worth the kind of money that could fund the building of 50 wells in Africa isn’t going to look on your CV.

Not that Nina did much to ease his stress levels. While he was trying to concentrate on the cooking she kept bombarding him with repetitive questions that nobody really needed to know the answers to, like, “Is it cooking like a normal burger?” and, “From a chef’s point of view, is there anything different about this burger?” (In case you do need to know the answers, they were “yes” and “no.”)

It took the burger slightly longer to cook than I was expecting. Maybe Richard was cooking it on a low heat to avoid burning it as 100 people stared intently at the frying pan in front of him. Or maybe I was just really, really hungry (I was).

Anyway, as the burger was sizzling away, we were introduced to the two special guests, who—along with Professor Post—would be eating and critiquing the first-ever cultured beef burger.

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The first guest to dive in was Hanni Rutzler, a food and nutritional scientist. Hanni, while perfectly pleasant, was perhaps the worst possible candidate for this job. There were around 100 journalists hungrily waiting for quotes, and the best Hanni could come up with were, “It was hotter [temperature-wise] than I expected,” and—when asked what it actually tasted like—”It’s a bit like cake.”

By this stage, the assorted media weren’t just hungry for words, but for a bite of the burger they were all there to write about. A writer from the Huffington Post asked if just one of the assembled journalists could try it and give their feedback, but unfortunately that notion was shot down as “unfair” to everyone else. A writer from the Times yelled, “I really don’t mind!” But it was no use; the dream was over.

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It all rested on the second taster, Josh Schonwald. Josh is an author, so surely he could muster at least the beginnings of the description that the entire world’s press was gagging for. “I’d put it somewhere between Bunga Burger and McDonald’s,” he said, forgetting that he was in London and nobody had a clue what Bunga Burger was. “But it’s hard because I don’t know how many burgers I’ve eaten in my life without ketchup.”

Tasting over, it was time for the Q&A. Again, many of the questions related to a more accurate description of the taste, but all we got was, “It could use salt and pepper,” from Hanni. Meanwhile, Josh—in between shamelessly plugging his book, The Taste of Tomorrow—offered up, “I feel like the fat is missing. There’s a leanness to it, but the bite is like a conventional burger.”

Which, again, didn’t really satisfy anyone in the audience.

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After resigning ourselves to the fact that we were neither going to taste the burger nor get any real quotes on what it tasted like, the press instead started asking about the future of the science behind the patty.

Professor Post said he could envision mass production of cultured beef within 20 years and that it should, in theory, be the same price or cheaper than regular beef. He also alleviated concerns over how safe the meat is to eat, stating that it’s genetically identical to beef found in a cow and that, yes, he would let his children eat it.

Probably the most astonishing fact of the day came when he was asked if he’d given any thought to a catchier name than “cultured beef.” He said they’d had a naming competition at Maastricht University, where the research was carried out, to see if anyone could come up with something better. Seven thousand people entered, but apparently not a single one of them was “satisfying.”

After the Q&A session I, along with a few others, rushed toward the stage to get an up-close look at the remainder of the burger, but by the time we got there it had already been whisked away by security goons, like Nicki Minaj being led away from a mob of paparazzi.

I may have witnessed a historical moment, but as I left the tasting room I couldn’t help but feel a little let down. The whole event was to find out if the taste of beef could be replicated in the lab, and thanks to the incompetence of the tasters that’s still something we don’t really know the answer to. If I’m honest, I was also disappointed that I hadn’t been able to nab a bite of it myself. But it looks like I’ll just have to wait 20 years like everybody else.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @matthewfrancey

All photos courtesy of Maastricht University.

Fa Bene – food surplus sharing

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fa bene is a food surplus sharing project brought by the non profit cultural association PLUG. It happened on May 20th in Turin (piazza Cerignola).

The initiative aims to redistribute Cerignola’s market food surplus sharing it with families that need it. The goal is to turn environmental and economic costs into social benefits. The food surplus is going to be delivered to those needing families during three months. fa bene is part of the Smart City Days events as an attempt to reduce food waste.

Here are some photos from the event.

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Milano Food Week

The Milano Food Week happened from 17th to 25th of May. We unfortunately couldn’t be there to cover the event but the event’s staff sent us some nice material about all that happened. Take a look.

Milano Food Week is a collector of events that aims to become the ‘Fuorisalone’ of the food sector. In 2013 Milano Food Week was very organic and rich since it was composed of 5 kitchens, about 200 restaurants and 200 events.

The 5 Kitchens provided by Lube Cucine and enriched by De’Longhi Group:
– De’Longhi Group Official Store (via Borgogna 8): branded kitchen devoted to free cooking courses
– Expo Kitchen: floating kitchen on Naviglio Grande devoted to great chefs and Expo 2015 thematics
– Public Kitchen: floating kitchen on Naviglio Grande  devoted to common people that desired to show their skills in the kitchens
– Fashion Kitchen Brian&Barry: kitchen hosted by one of the most up to date fashion shops in Milan devoted to the relationship between food, trends and fashion
– Live Kitchen: blogger’s kitchen in Piazza San Babila

Among the 200 event Milano Food Week also hosted McDonalds preview of the product ‘Le Insalate’, as well as the Temporary Restaurant ‘Franceschetta 58’ by Massimo Bottura.

The succes of the edition was highlighted by the great number of Milano Food Lover card issued during the kermesse. The thousands of Milano Food Lovers will have the opportunity to have discounts and special offers in the 200 restaurants, bars and foodshops that are part of Milano Food Week – http://www.milanofoodweek.it/public/promozioni.

Chef Fabio Baldassarre c:o Expo Kitchen Chef Fabio Baldassarre c/o Expo Kitchen

Chef Fabio Baldassarre recipeChef Fabio Baldassarre recipe

Gnambox bloggers c:o Live Kitchen Gnambox bloggers c/o Live Kitchen

Gianni Tota Associazione Nazionale Cuochi Italiani c:o De'Longhi Group Official Store KitchenGianni Tota Associazione Nazionale Cuochi Italiani c/o De’Longhi Group Official Store Kitchen

Expo Kitchen c:o Alzaia Naviglio Grande 6Expo Kitchen c/o Alzaia Naviglio Grande 6

Ernst Knam's Milan design chocolate c:o Fashion Kitchen Brian&Barry Chef Fabio Baldassarre recipe

Del Verde pasta showcooking c:o Piazza Gae Aulenti Del Verde pasta showcooking c/o Piazza Gae Aulenti

Street Food Heroes Italia 2 showcooking c:o Live Kitchen Street Food Heroes Italia 2 showcooking c/o Live Kitchen

Stefania Corrado using Kenwood's Cooking Chef during a showcooking Stefania Corrado using Kenwood’s Cooking Chef during a showcooking

Milano Food Week's Live Kitchen & Info Point during Youmpa's event Milano Food Week’s Live Kitchen & Info Point during Youmpa’s event

Milano Food Week restaurant with event banner Milano Food Week restaurant with event banner

Lisa Casali and Stefania Corrado showcooking c:o Expo Kitchen Lisa Casali and Stefania Corrado showcooking c/o Expo Kitchen

More on MIlano Food Week

Food Design – Event by Bocconi Students 4 Design, May 22 in Milan

Here is an interesting event for our italian readers. Food Design is organized by Bocconi Students 4 Design. We got a nice mail from the organization with the event information. From what I got to know, seems a good opportunity to work with interactions between Design professionals and chefs, but also to realize Food in its complex questions.

Food Design Flyer

Sull’evento, in italiano.

“Mangiare non è più soltanto un’azione finalizzata al sostentamento fisiologico, ma il risultato di fattori sociologici, antropologici, economici e culturali.
La continua diversificazione delle sostanze nutritive assimilabili, dovuta alle contingenti situazioni ambientali, climatiche ed economiche, ha condizionato il mercato della domanda e dell’offerta, le tendenze ed i servizi collaterali, avvicinando il cibo al mondo del design.
Ecco perché gli chef di tutto il mondo hanno orientato la propria ricerca a proposte alimentari che ispirino equilibrio ed armonia, per un’esperienza sensoriale completa.
Il design applicato all’alimentazione richiede una complessa analisi delle esigenze dell’individuo nelle diverse situazioni di consumo, per poi desumere il processo di progettazione ed ideazione dell’offerta alimentare.
Insomma, il Food Design è a tutti gli effetti una branca dell’Industrial Design.
Per scoprire questo singolare mondo, interverranno Paolo Barichella, fondatore di Food Design Studio e della Commissione ADI Food Design, e i due chef stellati Michelin Davide Oldani – Ristorante D’O, e Pietro Leeman – Ristorante Joia.
Modera il Professor Severino Salvemini dell’Università Bocconi.”

Friday Project – Graphic Furniture & Food Storage

11878_4745865163248_727720248_nThis year I had the opportunity to get involved with the Milan Design Week events and I’d like to share some projects with you, our few blog readers! Considering when the events happened, I’m late, I know. But my scuse is that good information never gets old!

I met the people from Friday Project in the Salone Satelite. We couldn’t talk much there because it was pretty crowded, but they sent me some material later. Here it is.

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Time ago we use to give food a proper space. Then with the modern
kitchen, we started to place everything together, organizing pasta and
bread in the middle of plates and pots, and stacking the rest in the
refrigerator.
This furniture gives again a proper space to the food and organize it with
an educational purpose. It is based on the principles of the food guide
pyramid: it gives more space to what we should eat more, and less to
other products.

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The structure is made on painted steel with a mosaic of materials that
correspond to different functions: wooden drawers for bread, pasta and
cereals, dark spaces for potatoes and onions, a terracotta box for fresh
vegetables, shelves with spaces for eggs, aromatic herbs, spices…
The open structure and the palette of materials, are a way to show and
communicate what we have at home, suggesting combination and
inspiring recipes. All the products are displayed with a specific sequence
and logic, in order to understand immediately how much space we should
give to cereals and vegetables instead of cookies and sweets.
It’s a way to bring in the house an educational system for our diet. It’s an
instrument to show the food we have at home, and to push people to
combine it in an healthy way.

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The aim of this furniture is also combining in one object different
techniques of food preservation. It follows the theories, that many
designers are applying in interesting solutions, of conserving food out of
the refrigerator. There is for example a terracotta box, designed to keep
the “living food” fresh by using natural processes. It consist in a traditional
system, called Zeer or “pot in pot”: by keeping wet the sand layer
between the two pots, we activate an evaporative process that takes out
the warmth and maintains the vegetables fresh.

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The object has a strong concept, but is also a way of thinking the kitchen,
not as a strong block, but organized by functions. The lines of the furniture
are simple and essential, the shape is geometric and emphatic. The
purpose of using different materials it’s a way to communicate the variety
of functions and the colours of the furniture are emphasize by the
products we will display on it.
It is part of a collection of objects, named “graphic furnitures”, that we are
going to present for the first time at Salone Satellite.
There’s a lamp named “Flamingo” with a long, thin stick. It’s graphical
lines are simple and elegant. There’s nothing hidden in the construction, it
brings to life the spontaneous and colorful intention of a child drawing.
The top part has a laser cut pattern to reflect the light in the space in a
scenographic way. It’s totally realized in painted steel.
And “people”, a set of stools, tables and planters. The shape is simple and
clear, and they have little feet to run away. They are made of painted steel
and a removable wood panel.
FridayProject’s furnitures are designed with a graphical approach,
characterized by straight lines, playful shapes and pastel colours.

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Food Revolution Day

I have been following Food Day and Food Revolution Day activities for a while now. I even posted about Food Day here on the blog before. It is nice to see good initiatives like those brought to light with hard work. Some days ago, I got this kind newsletter email.

Dear Ravi,

Food Day–the nationwide celebration and grassroots campaign for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food is October 24.

But there’s no reason to wait six months to get involved in the food movement!  We on the Food Day team have teamed up with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on another important day of action, Food Revolution Day. Jamie has been an important ally helping improve school foods in the U.S., and we’re thrilled to work together this year to keep cooking skills alive.

The second annual Food Revolution Day, a global day of action for people to make a stand for good food and essential cooking skills, is coming up on May 17 and there are loads of ways to get involved!

Food Revolution Day aims to raise awareness about the importance of good food and better food education for everyone. It’s a chance for people to come together within their homes, schools, workplaces and communities to cook and share their kitchen skillsfood knowledge and resources.

Activities are taking place all around the world, from healthy pizza demos and interactive workshops to real food picnics and even a disco salad!

Getting involved can be as simple as making a home-cooked dinner for family and friends, teaching someone how to cook or sharing a favorite recipe. Check out this activity pack, filled with ideas for Food Revolution Day, plus some great ideas to make your event that extra bit special!

Whatever you decide to do, no matter how big or small, be sure to add your activity to the global map atwww.foodrevolutionday.com and join the conversation online with @foodrev using the hash tag #FRD2013.

Join us, the Food Revolution Day team and thousands of others across the world in standing up for better food education and help keep cooking skills alive on May 17.

Sincerely,

Lilia Smelkova, Food Day Campaign Manager”

 

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Get to know more on Food Day and Food Revolution Day.

 

 

World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013 – Live Stream

FDL will report from a live streaming, same as in the past two years, directly from London’s Guildhall and share this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants winners as they are being announced during the event sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, on 29th of April.

Lifetime achievement was already announced: it was assigned to the French chef Alain Ducasse: read FDL’s tribute to him
The Italian Nadia Santini, chef of the “Dal Pescatore” is the winner of the Veuve Cliquot World’s Best Female Chef Awardread her interview on FDL. The prizes will be given out on the night of the awards, in addition to the list and other individual prizes such as One to Watch and Chef’s Choice amongst others.

2013 is a great year for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants: this year, in fact, started the first edition of the dedicated award in Asia at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants that went to japanese The creations de Narisawa restaurant by chef Yoshihiro Narisawa.

BEST RESTAURANTS AWARD
Last year’s 2012 winner was René Redzepi’s restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. The restaurant reached the top of the list for the third year in a row, at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants it was celebrated by friends and colleagues as seen in the video.

Based on a number of elements, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list is compiled each year to determine which restaurant of the Best Chefs in the World can be considered among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
How it works: The lists of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants are organised and compiled by William Reed Media. The list is created from The Diners Club® World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, an influential group of over 900 international leaders in the restaurant industry, each selected for their expert opinion of the international restaurant scene.

The Academy comprises 26 separate regions around the world. Each region has its own panel of 36 members including a chairperson to head it up. The panel is made up of food critics, chefs, restaurateurs and highly regarded ‘foodies’ each of whom has seven votes. Of the seven votes, at least three of which must be used to recognise restaurants outside of their region. At least 10 panellists from each region change each year. The results are published online as soon as they have been announced to the assembled chefs and academy members in February in Singapore for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and in London in April for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Every restaurant in the world is eligible.

Book your seat here

Post from Fine Dining Lovers