A year ago, the Impossible Burger–a plant-based burger that looks, tastes, and even bleeds like it’s made from ground beef–was still in development in a Silicon Valley lab. Now it’s on the menu at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Public, based in Manhattan, is the first restaurant with a Michelin star to serve the burger. A handful of other restaurants, including Momufuku Nishi in New York City, began offering it in 2016. Saxon + Parole, run by the same chef as Public, will also offer the burger beginning February 1.
“The more I read about it, it sounded like exactly what I wanted to get on my menu,” says Brad Farmerie, executive chef at Public and Saxon + Parole.
Developed by a team led by former Stanford biochemist Patrick Brown, the burger is made from a combination of plant ingredients chosen to replicate the deliciousness of beef. Heme, an iron-based molecule in blood that is a critical part of the taste of meat, is also found in plants, and is a key part of the recipe.
“Some of the ingredients . . . are exactly the same as you might find in meat, both nutritionally and structurally,” says Farmerie. “I find it fascinating.”
The result looks nothing like the veggie burgers of the past (and Impossible Foods, the startup behind the burger, tells chefs not to call it a veggie burger). Farmerie, who says that vegetarian food sometimes carries some of the same “mental baggage” as certain meats like offal or wild game, doesn’t think he’ll have any challenge getting customers to try the Impossible Burger.
“It’s what I think of a lot of things we serve–if I can get it in front of them, I know that they’re going to love it,” he says. “It’s really flavorful, texturally amazing, and beautiful to look at as well.”
It’s also significantly better for the world than a burger made from a cow, using a fraction of the resources in production and emitting a fraction of the greenhouse gasses, without antibiotics or hormones.
Farmerie thinks the product will inspire more plant-based meat to significantly improve.
“I think this will force people to up their game,” he says. “I think that there’s never been anything even close to this before . . . you almost always feel like you’re sacrificing something to eat these other plant-based meats. This is a true–I won’t say perfect–but it’s a true one-for-one comparison both visually, with flavor and texture, and also with nutrients.”