Dominique Crenn’s Michelin Star Restaurant First to Serve Cell-Based Meat
Renowned chef Dominique Crenn just teamed up with food tech company UPSIDE Foods –previously known as Memphis Meats – to begin working with the company’s signature cell-based meat. Crenn is the first woman in the United States to be awarded three Michelin stars, and currently, she is working to become the first US chef to serve lab-grown chicken. The legendary chef is planning to feature UPSIDE Food’s cell-based chicken at her San Francisco restaurant Atelier Crenn.
UPSIDE Foods creates its cultivated chicken meat by using a small number of chicken cells used to replicate chicken meat. The initial chicken cells get put into a bioreactor to eventually produce a lab-grown, mirrored meat product.
Crenn will act as culinary counsel for UPSIDE, working in recipe development and product review for the start-up’s cultivated meat products. Once successfully passing a regulatory review, the chef plans to serve the cultivated chicken in her fine-dining establishment, where she removed all meat from the menu in 2018. Crenn introducing the cultivated meat signifies the restaurant's emphasis on sustainable sourcing, seeing cultivated or cell-based meat as beneficial to the fine dining supply chain.
“When I tasted UPSIDE Chicken for the first time, I thought, this is it. This is the future of food. The look, smell, and sear—UPSIDE Chicken is just delicious,” Crenn said. “People are finally waking up to the downsides of conventional meat production, which led me to remove meat from my menus several years ago.”
The legendary chef announced that she would remove meat from her three restaurants in 2019 with the exception of seafood. Crenn altered her menus to make a statement against the negative impact of animal agriculture and its relationship with the ongoing and worsening climate crisis. The statement is meant to act as an example for other chefs across the world.
With her sustainability agenda, Crenn’s decision to incorporate cultivated meat aims to normalize the inclusion of the protein alternative. UPSIDE Foods’ process produces a meat product without animal slaughter and the dangerous consequence of animal agriculture. Crenn will put UPSIDE’s cultivated chicken on her menu once granted government regulatory approval to ensure that her restaurant upholds her personal value regarding environmental precautions.
“Chefs need to lead the way in making more conscious product choices,” Crenn said. “I am excited to be collaborating with UPSIDE Foods and am looking forward to bringing meat back to Atelier Crenn that is delicious and better for the world.”
UPSIDE Foods started with the mission to disrupt traditional food production practices, specifically inside the animal agriculture sector. Founded by cardiologist Uma Valeti, the company set out to undercut the meat and dairy industry by researching and developing methods to replicate familiar and beloved food staples without the dangerous impacts on the environment. To avoid the dangerous byproducts of animal agriculture, Valeti has worked on cell-based alternatives. Now, by partnering with Crenn, UPSIDE’s mission will have a moment in the spotlight.
“I have long admired Dominique’s passion for sustainability. She is relentless in her pursuit, without ever compromising on flavor or creativity, and we are honored to have a chef of her caliber join us as we prepare to debut UPSIDE Chicken to the world,” Valeti said. “She is a visionary who knows the future of food is about creating and empowering a more sustainable global food system.”
Recently, the thinktank RethinkX released a report entitled “Rethinking Climate Change” that detailed how people and industries could reduce carbon emissions by nearly 90 percent. The study’s central argument detailed how switching to cleaner, sustainable food production methods like cellular agriculture could stop the dangerous emissions enough to save the planet.
“As the most inefficient and economically vulnerable part of the industrial food system, cow products will be the first to feel the full force of the food distribution,” the report reads. "By 2030, the number of cows in the United States will have fallen by 50 percent, and the cattle farming industry will be all but bankrupt. All other commercial livestock industries worldwide will quickly follow the same fate as will commercial fisheries and aquaculture.”
Atelier Crenn’s menu change is the latest of a growing trend surrounding cultivate and cell-based meat. In May, Eat Just announced that it raised $170 million during an investment round for its GOOD Meat brand. The company already debuted its cultivated chicken product at the JW Marriot Singapore South Beach due to Singapore’s relaxed regulations regarding cell-based products.
The cell-based movement is currently awaiting full-scale governmental certification. Currently, companies including Eat Just and UPSIDE Foods await certification from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. However, the cell-based industry has not experienced financial stagnation without certification. A report from the Good Food Institute found that the cultivated meat industry accumulated more than $360 million last year. The report goes on to highlight the rapid growth relating to its rapid acceptance among consumers, which will be helped by restaurants like JW Marriot and Atelier Crenn.
“Just as fully electric cars will someday simply be referred to as ‘cars,’ cultivated meat can become the default if the industry receives adequate public and private funding to scale up,” Managing Director of Good Food Institute Mirte Gosker said. “Forward-thinking hospitality leaders like JW Marriott Singapore South Beach and restaurants like Madame Fan are providing a sneak peek of what’s possible in that safer and more sustainable future.”