While high-end cuisine is a logical launch point for cultured meat, few expect chefs themselves to start companies that create this form of alternative protein.
But if you’re Chef Shimamura Masaharu of Japan, someone who writes that in high school he wondered whether to “to wear a cook’s lab coat or a scientist’s lab coat,” straddling the two worlds makes perfect sense.
Which is why the chef/owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Unkaku has launched DiverseFarm, a joint venture with cell-ag technology company TissueByNet.
TissueByNet has developed a proprietary technology to make cultured cellular tissue to create lab-grown organs in hospitals, which DiverseFarm hopes to now use to make cultured meat.
TissueByNet’s technology uses what is called spheroids, which are three dimensional spherical globs of cells that get fed into what the company calls Net Molds. Net Molds are containers that allow the tissue to grow without a more traditional scaffolding structure based on biomaterials. The cell culture is placed into the Net Mold with the spheroids culture, where they fuse together and are ready to “harvest” in one to three weeks.
On its website, DiverseFarm shows some examples of what the cell-cultured meat menu selections might look like, listing a variety of mainly cultured duck meat including “Deep-fried Domyoji of cultured duck meat, seasonal bean paste” and “Dashi chazuke of cultured duck meat.”
The news is another illustration of the growing interest in cultured meat in Japan. While Singapore’s been getting lots of attention due to the government’s active catalyzation efforts and milestones like Eat Just’s, startups like Integriculture and Shojinmeat (the news of DiverseFarm was first highlighted via a tweet from Shojinmeat) have captured the imagination of those in this island nation who are interested in increasing food sovereignty.
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