Chef’s Council: Putting the PRO in Protein

Nov 13, 2019Categories, Savory

FIVE days of meat analogue exploration

FOUR world-renowned chefs

THREE participating Givaudan regions

TWO “takes” on each challenge: external chef-inspired and internal customer-focused demo

ONE unique mission — to further understand how we can play a role in providing various proteins to consumers in delicious ways

I think it’s really no secret: protein is hot. Or should I say (as the kids say)…

To further understand this “on fire” “meat market”, we gathered some of the world’s preeminent chefs to understand what the future of protein will look like. Here’s the short of the challenge:

1) Understand the market & the challenges faces the meat substitute category.

2) Each Givaudan region (Europe & Middle East, Latin America, and North America) finds one of the world’s best chefs to take on those challenges.

3) Create new chef-inspired concepts that answer the challenges.

I won’t lie, this year’s Chef’s Council – held in late October in London – featured some pretty amazing chefs. Girl power – guys – girl power:

From L to R: Chantelle Nicholson, Chef Patron at Tredwells in London; Chef Owner Amanda Cohen, Chef Owner of Dirt Candy in New York City; Helena Rizzo, Chef of Mani Restaurant in Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Cristina Bowerman, Chef and Proprietor of Glass Hostaria in Rome.

And they created some pretty amazing meat analogue AND protein-forward dishes. Each regional team took a holistic approach to the challenges, whether it was focused on finding ways to use Textured Vegetable Proteins (like “fake” nugget meat) or how to put veggies as your well-rounded, protein-packed main dish.

We had all this knowledge in one space. What did we learn, you ask? If you’re looking for wrap up you can read while waiting in line for your PSL, you came to the right location.

Texture Matters

Texture is a big deal in food, it can knock out a whole food group if someone doesn’t like the texture. (RE: my husband’s disdain for fruit… Yes, all fruit… Yes, I’m serious.) Whether it’s on top of the meat substitute or as side dish pairings, a variety of textures is the way to go. We saw this on an outing to Tredwell’s London where we ate a miso-glazed Kalibos cabbage with cavolo nero and cobnuts. Or back in the Challenge Kitchen with a broccoli rib served with crunchy chickpea dumplings, a sweet coleslaw, and some tangy BBQ sauce.

But it’s not only the texture of the entrée/meal as a whole, but also the mouthfeel of the meat substitutes as well. After a tasting of 35 meat substitute products from around the world, there was one clear winner. But after discussing the reasoning for our favoritism, we discovered a difference in descriptive language and preferences among regions. For example, “livery” is a taste profile loved and hated among different regions.

Sauce is the HERO

One day was focused on gathering inspiration from London eateries. But the common theme found by all trekking teams was: sauce is the HERO! It can change the way a dish is perceived and can help mask off-putting notes found in some meat substitute products. This vegan rice tartar, toasted bread & sesame ice cream, artichoke aioli, fermented black garlic & “swavoury” (sweet and savory) chutney made the sauces shine and the combinations of flavors delectable.

vegan rice tartar, toasted bread & sesame ice cream, artichoke aioli, fermented black garlic & “swavoury” (sweet and savory) chutney

Givaudan understands the demands in this space and is currently creating studies to test and anticipate consumer desires for sauces and condiments on meat analogue products.

Deconstruct What You Know

We so often want to keep our eye focused on the main objective, but what our external chefs taught us in London is that deconstructing a traditional dish can lead to some pretty interesting things.

External Chef, Amanda Cohen, shared that when you deconstruct a traditional vegetable and make it look different than what consumers already know, they’re more accepting of it. And, have you ever thought about smoking yogurt? It’s quite delicious.

Focusing on multiple cooking methods can bring a new taste to a dish. Steam your dish base, then dehydrate it, then rehydrate it, then smoke it – how do all these variations provide a meatier taste in the meat substitutes?

I’m talking only three key insights, but the depth of what we know goes – and is going – much farther. Chef’s Council may have just gotten over but our appetite for the learnings we’ve gathered is just getting started. This isn’t a one-course meal – stay tuned for the other courses…

Check out our Global Insights Report on the event, by clicking here:

Your North American Chef’s Council Team

NOAM Chef's Council Team
Chef Sean Craig, Ashley Kindle, Natalie McElwee, Cheryl Udzielak, Jen Augelli, Chef Amanda Cohen, Sous Chef Amanda-Lee Chesley, Chef Mike Ratini, Sam Fisher, Chef Carrie Born


1 Comment

  1. Robin Berardi

    Great article and insights!


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