Berkeley, California-based cultivated meat company UPSIDE Foods, announced today that it has partnered with Dominique Crenn, the co-owner and chef of the three Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn restaurant in San Francisco. Crenn will assist with recipe development for the company, and, pending regulatory review and approval, will serve UPSIDE’s cultivated chicken at her restaurant in the future.
Previously known as Memphis Meats, UPSIDE Foods unveiled its first cultivated meatball in 2016 and its first cultivated piece of poultry in 2017. This past May, the company announced that its first consumer-facing product will be cultivated chicken. However, none of UPSIDE’s wares are on sale yet, since the company has yet to gain regulatory approval to sell these and other cultivated meat products.
At the moment, Singapore is the only country that has approved the sale of cultivated meat, and it isn’t clear who will be the next. In the U.S., the FDA and USDA will oversee the regulation of cultured meat, and figuring out this framework is still a work in progress. As a result, UPSIDE’s restaurant partnership won’t come to fruition until the company gets regulatory approval to sell its cultivated meat.
If and when that happens, it will be a big switch for Crenn’s restaurant, too. Because of environmental concerns around the production of meat, Crenn made the decision to remove all meat from Crenn Dining Group’s restaurants in 2019. Since UPSIDE’s cultivated chicken is actual meat made from harvested animal cells, the restaurant group will be deviating from that stance for the first time in a few years. Of course, one of the benefits touted by cultured meat industry is that its products are more environmentally friendly than conventionally raised meat, since no animals are slaughtered in the process.
Putting cultured meat on a restaurant menu is one way to introduce it to consumers. Other food tech start-ups like Impossible Foods and Meati have presented their products through restaurants first, before going diectly to consumers. This is one way to garner interest from the innovators and early adopters who are eager to try new products.
After getting regulatory approval, UPSIDE Foods will continue to partner with other chefs and restaurants throughout the U.S. The company has begun building a production facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, and eventually plans to roll out its cultivated meat in grocery stores.