D.O.M.: Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients

Alex Atala’s cookbook is out. This year, the brazilian chef was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people, spoke at events like MAD3 in a controversial performance killing a chicken on stage and now he comes showing his discoveries, creations and some of Brazil’s widely diverse food traditions.

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D.O.M.: Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients is an exclusive look at one of the world’s most exciting chefs, his unique relationship with the produce of his native Brazil and the food he creates from it.

Recently voted as number 4 in the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurant Awards, Alex Atala’s restaurant D.O.M has built its unique style of cuisine on the discovery and exploration of Brazilian ingredients combined with a commitment to finding sustainable solutions to sourcing them to the benefit of the Amazon and its people.

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A former punk DJ who was classically trained as a chef in Europe, Atala refuses to import ingredients such as caviar, truffles and fois gras, staples in many high-end restaurant kitchens, into Brazil and instead scours the Amazon for indigenous produce to fuse with classical techniques in his cooking. He then works with the Amazon’s native communities and small-scale producers to extend the availability of these native products around Brazil.

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This commitment to not only producing delicious food, but also using his kitchen as a tool for social responsibility and conservation has led to the introduction of many new and unknown ingredients onto his menu, such as a new variety of palm heart that can be farmed and harvested sustainably; the first of its kind.

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This book will tell the individual stories of 65 of the unique ingredients that are used in the kitchens at D.O.M. and Alex’s relationship with them. Each ingredient will be accompanied by a recipe for one of the dishes that it is utilized in and a beautiful image of both the ingredient and the finished dish.

The fascinating texts, stunning photographs and inspiring recipes will combine to create a beautiful cookbook that is fully accessible to the general reader.

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About Alex Atala

A creative chef, Alex Atala is known in Brazil and throughout the world for exploring, through classical techniques, the gastronomical possibilities of Brazilian ingredients. Atala began his career when he was 19 in Belgium, at the École Hôtelière de Namur. In France he worked at Jean Pierre Bruneau’s Michelin 3-star restaurant, and staged at Hotel de la Cote D’Or with Chef Bernard Loiseau. In 1994 he returned to São Paulo, where his performance in several establishments around the city attracted the attention of journalists and gourmands. He opened D.O.M. restaurant in 1999. In 2009 Atala opened his second restaurant, Dalva e Dito, to critical acclaim.

Book photos via R2 Design

Book description via Phaidon

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.

Traffic light’ food labelling system finally rolls out

A consistent ‘traffic light’ system for providing nutritional food labelling is finally rolling out, following several years of development.

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The system will combine red, amber and green colour-coding and nutritional information to show how much fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar and calories are in foods.

The system is based on ‘traffic light’ designs that were created by Bell Integrated Communciations in 2005, before being updated by the consultancy in 2009.

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After Bell’s original designs were delivered to the Food Standards Agency, they were implemented by retailers in different ways, meaning that several varients of the traffic light system were developed.

The new guidelines aim to stamp out these inconsistencies and provide a unified front-of-pack design across all food products. It will replace individual systems such as the Sainbsbury’s ‘traffic light wheel’.

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The voluntary system is being implemented by the Department for Health, with food brands including Mars and Nestle signed up, as well as all major UK retailers – including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Waitrose.

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The Department of Health says businesses signed up account for more than 60 per cent of food sold in the UK.

However, some brands, including Coca-Cola, Mondelez and Dairy Crest, have shunned the new system, citing concerns that they could cause confusion among customers.

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Health Minister Anna Soubry says, ‘The UK already has the largest number of products using a front-of-pack label in Europe but we know that people get confused by the variety of labels that are used.’

Via Design Week

Edible Insects

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It’s been from May 13th that eating insects is again in the buzz of the specialized media because of a work presented in the FAO’s International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition. The work is Edible insects – Future prospects for food and feed security.

It shows the many traditional and potential new uses of insects for direct human consumption and the opportunities for and constraints to farming them for food and feed. It examines the body of research on issues such as insect nutrition and food safety, the use of insects as animal feed, and the processing and preservation of insects and their products.

FAO made also available this information guide: The contribution of insects to food security, livelihoods and the environment.

Here in our Food Design Association, we have Giulia Tachini. She took her Product Design Master’s Degree in the Polytechnic of Milan presenting her final project: A Hypothesis of Food System Compensation: Eating Insects for Food Security and a Sustainable Future. The work got good critics and she kept on with the theme organizing other projects supporting her aims. Like this insect biscuits presented in the Milan Design Week 2013. Get to know more on her site.

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Another nice project I found on the web is this one by Monica Martinez & Rosanna Yau, take a look here.

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Here’s an interesting video… “FAO consultant, Afton Halloran, describes the use of insects as food in developing nations to provide nutrients missed in local food supplies and how the practice is spreading globally. She speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse.”

Buycott

Buycott is an an app to find out what companies and causes your money supports when you are looking for a product. Using the app, is possible to get information about the product’s traceability and make their root informations available to more people by sharing it.

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Have you ever wondered whether the money you spend ends up funding causes you oppose?

A buycott is the opposite of a boycott. Buycott helps you to organize your everyday consumer spending so that it reflects your principles.

Example: During the SOPA/PIPA debate in 2012, a number of companies pushed to pass legislation that reduced online freedom of expression, while other companies fought hard to oppose the legislation. With Buycott, a campaign can be quickly created around a cause, with the goal of targeting companies with a boycott unless they change their position, or buycotting a company to show your support.

When you use Buycott to scan a product, it will look up the product, determine what brand it belongs to, and figure out what company owns that brand (and who owns that company, ad infinitum). It will then cross-check the product owners against the companies and brands included in the campaigns you’ve joined, in order to tell you if the scanned product conflicts with one of your campaign commitments.

Get the app here.

Gotham Greens + Whole Foods: Commercial-Scale City Greenhousing

57904_10151356204230843_895285916_nGotham Greens is the first commercial-scale rooftop hydroponic greenhouse in the world. They got together with Whole Foods for this groundbreaking entrepreneurship, using less water, eliminating pesticides, putting an end to fertilizer runoff and leading the way to a sustainable agriculture.

 

 

 

You can read more on this Whole Foods article.

Seymour Powell creates new Hozelock gardening products

Good news for those who grow their vegetables at home are getting more frequent. This practice is growing big as a life style, relevant products are also getting better. Here is a post, about this well done project by Seymour Powell for the garden brand Hozelock, I found on Design Week.

“Seymour Powell has created the new Growbag Waterer and Flexi Spray for garden brand Hozelock.”

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The new products form part of Hozelock’s drive to ‘to minimise consumer hassle through new and innovative products that would grow the business’, according to Seymour Powell.

The new Growbag Waterer automatically irrigates plants for up to a fortnight, using a capillary action. It uses a large trough with watering spikes that push a capillary mat into the growbag, aiming to minimise water waste and improve efficiency by absorbing the water upwards as opposed to watering down.

The Flexi Spray adaptable hose attachment works as a sprinkler, a long reach hose for hanging baskets and a hands free hose, with a ‘strong spray function for cleaning’, according to Seymour Powell.

The product uses patented twist action engineering, and the consultancy says it can ‘withstand at least 2000 different orientations and twists on every single millimetre point without breaking.’

The consultancy initially reviewed the Hozelock offer to identity different gardening ‘attitudes’, including Devoted, Systematic, Romantic and Averse.

Seymour Powell then looked at how irrigation fitted into the lives of each of these gardening ‘types’ to develop a range of products, which it says are also influenced by the brand’s Gardening for Life focus.

More products design by Seymour Powell for Hozelock are in the pipeline.

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