Michelin-starred celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés plans to serve cultured chicken at one of his U.S. restaurants. However, when that will happen is not so certain, because the USDA and FDA are still deciding on what to call it.
Cultured meat (meat grown from living animal cells inside a bioreactor) can’t currently be sold in the U.S. But, that moment could be fast-approaching as the USDA and FDA work out the details. In September, the USDA sought out public comments on what companies should be allowed to label cultured meat, should it be approved for sale.
More than 1,100 people weighed in, adding suggestions such as “meat,” “fake meat,” “cultured protein,” and “cultivated meat.” (There was even a warning that “We’re approaching the fictional movie Soylent Green.”) The bottom line is that the public’s feelings about cultured meat are mixed.
But Andrés, whose Washington, DC-based restaurant Minibar by José Andrés has two Michelin stars, is firmly in favor. The chef has even joined the board of directors for GOOD Meat, the cultured meat division of Eat Just, a San Francisco-based food tech company known for its vegan egg and mayonnaise products.
When the U.S. eventually figures out the details and grants cultured meat regulatory approval, Andrés will be serving GOOD Meat at his restaurant. As part of the board, he will also provide culinary counsel to the brand’s chefs and scientists as they work to improve taste and texture.
“The future of the world depends on how we feed ourselves, as the great food thinker Brillat-Savarin wrote almost 200 years ago,” says Andrés, referring to the French author Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who is known for his celebrated work on gastronomy, Physiologie du goût (which translates to The Physiology of Taste).
He continues: “We need to innovate to adapt our food to a planet in crisis. We need to create meals that feed the people at the same time as we sustain our communities and environment.”
Humanitarian work is an important part of the Spanish-born American chef’s life. He is the founder of World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides meals to those affected by natural disasters. And in 2015, he was awarded a 2015 National Humanities Medal at the White House for his charitable work in hunger relief.
Will fine dining embrace cultured meat?
Conventional industrial meat production is unsustainable. It is responsible for 14.5 percent of the world’s human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and, along with fossil fuels, is one of the key drivers of the climate crisis.
However, cultured meat production requires significantly fewer resources. Because it removes animals from the supply chain, it also removes the land, water, feed, and energy needed to turn a chicken into a cutlet or a cow into a burger.
Andrés is not the only renowned chef who plans to serve a more sustainable kind of meat. French Chef Dominique Crenn will put cultured chicken on the menu at her three-Michelin star San Francisco restaurant Atelier Crenn. And cultured seafood startup Wildtype, which opened a pilot production facility in San Francisco this summer, intends to announce fine dining restaurant partnerships early next year.
So far, Singapore is the only nation in the world that has approved the sale of cultured meat, having given the okay to GOOD Meat chicken in late 2020. Today, the Singapore Food Agency approved the sale of new types of GOOD Meat cultured chicken. One of the new formats, chicken breast, will debut at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach next week.