Late last year, Redefine Meat held simultaneous events in leading European restaurants to launch its plant-based 3D printed steak. What the company calls its New Meat range comprises of plant-based beef and lamb flank cuts, as well as ‘culinary-grade’ ground beef, sausages, premium burgers and lamb kebabs.
The products are now available in high-end restaurants in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, with various Michelin-star chefs endorsing the level of quality achieved.
“I was so surprised by the texture and structure of the meat. The first time I tried it, I remember closing my eyes and appreciating the chewiness and mouthfeel like I would a great cut of meat. For me this is a gamechanger, as we can now serve another variety of high-quality meat to our customers that just happens to be made from plant-based ingredients. Even now my head is still spinning with the possibilities this meat creates for our menu,” Michelin starred Dutch chef and TV personality Ron Blaauw gushed.
The decision to launch in high-end restaurants was a strategic one, Redefine Meat co-founder and CEO Eshchar Ben-Shitrit told FoodNavigator at the exclusive London launch. The company believes this is the best way to profile what it says was previously thought technically impossible – the creation of plant-based whole cuts that deliver a texture and mouthfeel that echoes that of animal-based meat.
The London event was staged at Mr White’s, Marco Pierre White's restaurant in Leicester Square, and attended by chefs as well as retail buyers, investors and select media. A retail launch – as well as expansion into additional markets – are on this year’s agenda.
“We’ve achieved a level of superiority in taste and texture that surprised even some of the most recognized chefs in the world, and our unique technological capabilities enable us to replace every part of the cow for the first time. By continuing our close collaboration with the top-tier culinary world, we will accelerate our product rollout in the coming months – beginning with Europe and followed by the USA and Asia – and launch within multiple distribution channels next year,” Ben-Shitrit revealed.
The menu, which was put together by White, consisted of classically inspired dishes like Redefine beef mince Bolognese with gnocchi and Redefine pork sausage imam bayaldi with Greek yoghurt and coriander.
All eyes were, however, on the whole cut menu options. Redefine beef cut au poivre, with raisin sec and a port wine reduction. Redefine beef cut a Lyonnaise with a Maderia reduction. And Redefine lamb cut la Dijonnaise with Dijon mustard, chives and an onion jus.
What were Redefine’s plant-based 3D printed steaks like to cook with, we asked the first British chef to hold three Michelin stars.
Marco Pierre White's verdict: 'Wow'
“It's just extraordinary. The first time I ever worked with it, I just thought ‘wow’,” he recalled.
Putting the menu together for the launch party, White decided to cook Redefine’s New Meat in two methods. “First of all, I cook it in the sous vide bag so the heat goes into it gently. Then I take it out of the bag, dry it, season it, then I cook it on the blancher… It’s about delivering consistency because its not like a piece of meat where some people want it blue, some people want it rare, some people want it medium rare, medium, medium well and some want it well done. With it being plant-based, there is only one way of serving it. Therefore, I cook it at 64 degrees Celsius to start it then I put the caramelisation onto it afterwards.”
While White noted that there are some distinctions between how he can treat Redefine’s plant-based meat alternative and animal meat, he said that the techniques he opted for are nevertheless common approaches to cooking beef and lamb. “Chefs today cook fillet steaks in sous vide bags. They cook racks of lamb in sous vide bags, a lot of those two- and three-star Michelins. So all I've done is taken from the world that I came from.”
Sampling White’s menu, the signposting for what Redefine’s New Meat was expected to deliver was clear. Beef alternatives were paired with red wine reductions, lamb analogues were served alongside peas and mint. Classic pairings established an expectation in the mind of the diner. Was this intentional and – importantly – would Redefine’s product stand-up without this signalling?
White believes it would. He explained that Redefine Meat has leveraged its technology to overcome one of the greatest challenges facing formulators eyeing whole cuts – mimicking the texture of meat. Redefine has achieved two distinct textures for its lamb and beef cuts, White observed. “The lamb is softer than the beef, which it should be.”
The classic flavour combinations and cooking styles are a reflection of White’s background and preferences rather than the performance of the product, he maintained. “I'm a classicist, so I like those classic combinations. I like red wine and shallots. I like steak a Lyonnaise, or shall we say in England steak with onions. It works deliciously well… I believe we live in a world of refinement and not invention when it comes to combinations.”
Redefine Meat, however, is ‘an invention’, the chef continued. “We live in a world of refinement not invention but actually [Ben-Shitrit] has invented something. Now he’s refining it all the time. He asked me what, if I had to make any changes, would I do...”
What improvements would White recommend? The chef was tight lipped on any specifics stating that the feedback was ‘confidential’. But he remained positive about the technological accomplishment underpinning Redefine’s New Meat range.
The company's 3D printing technology also addresses one of the other issues plant-based formulators developing whole cuts must overcome: fat distribution.
The way that fat is distributed through the cut is important because it gives food and drink products particular sensory characteristics. Fats perform a number of functional roles, acting as texturizers, lubricants and aroma carriers. But animal and plant-based fats behave very differently when they are being cooked with distinct melting points (with the exception of coconut oil, plant oils are usually liquid at room temperature).
According to White, he did not find this an issue when cooking with Redefine’s New Meat products. “For example, with the lamb I can put a little bit of olive oil in the pouch. Yes. Little bit of thyme, a little bit of rosemary... Remember I'm not cooking it in the bag. What I'm doing is reheating it to 64 degree Celsius. And then I caramelize it on the blancher. I've now got my lamb scented with rosemary or thyme,” he elaborated.
“The more you work with something, the more you understand something and start to see the cleverness and the beauty of it,” he told us. “I think it's so clever. And I think it's delicious.”
Bringing plant-based analogues to fine dining
White believes that the concept, which has already been taken up by early adopters in Israel and Europe, will prove a big hit in fine dining establishments worldwide.
He explained that in food, trends are ‘typically led by the restaurant scene’ but plant-based ‘turned that on its head’ with innovation evident on the retail shelf driven by consumers and food brands. While the likes of Beyond Meat or Quorn are bringing plant-based burgers and alt. chicken to the fast food segment, few fine-dining establishments have added a meat analogue option to their menus, possibly because analogue products have struggled to deliver whole cuts that can be used in the same way as beef or lamb. White predicted Redefine Meat could change this.
“The beauty of this is you've got your lamb dish on your menu. You've got your or beef dish on your menu. You can now use this product and serve in exactly the same way as the lamb and the beef.”
From his own experience – White was himself a vegan for nine months and his daughter is a vegetarian – the chef, restaurateur and television personality is convinced Redefine’s offering answers an important need. Not just for greater variety of vegetarian options on menus, but for meat-free options that leave diners feeling satisfied. “I never felt fulfilled [as a vegan],” he reflected.
Redefine products have ‘of course’ secured a permeant place on the menus at White’s restaurants, where he noted some evenings 20% of orders are now for vegetarian alternatives.
“It’s only a matter of time before it’s in Michelin star menus. Once chefs see the beauty of it… I’m sure lots of chefs like myself will be blown away by that product."
But while Redefine Meat's whole cuts might be an ideal option for top-tier chefs, are the products also something that home cooks will take to? White believes the answer is yes.
"When it is released to the [retail] market, if you are having a dinner party some of your guests may be vegetarians. If you are a vegetarian who doesn't like to cook with meat you'd be very happy cooking with that. It is something vegetarians and meat eaters can enjoy together.
“It’s a game changer and it is there to stay. In the world that we live in, it is an extraordinary product. I genuinely believe what I’m saying.”
Where can you try Redefine Meat's New Meat?
Fine-dining restaurants who will be serving Redefine Meat’s New Meat include:
- Marco Pierre White’s Steak Houses (22 restaurants across the UK)
- Chotto Matte (London, UK)
- Burger Bear (London, UK)
- Restaurant FACIL (Berlin, Germany)
- Hotel Oranien (Berlin, Germany)
- Prism (Berlin, Germany)
- Ron Gastrobar (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
- Ron Gastrobar Oriental (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
- Ron Gastrobar Indonesia Downtown (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
- Ron Gastrobar Indonesia (Amstelveen, Netherlands)
- NENI Amsterdam (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
- RDM Hospitality Group’s “Coffee Bar” (Tel Aviv, Israel)
- RDM Hospitality Group’s “Herzl 16” (Tel Aviv, Israel)
- Hotel Montefiore (Tel Aviv, Israel)