A Conversation with Brad Farmerie of Saxon + Parole and David Lee from Impossible Foods
With limitless options on where to eat and what food to buy, today’s New Yorkers are hunting down foods which meet their personal dietary requirements and health goals, are sustainably sourced, and quench their thirst for something different from the norm.
Retailers are constantly adapting to this new wave of consumer demand, but what role can restaurants play in bringing new food innovations and experiences to customers?
“Restaurants tend to be at the forefront of new food innovations which then experience a trickle-down effect to the retail consumer and home cook,” says Brad Farmerie, Executive Chef, Saxon + Parole. “Many of the leading chefs want to innovate through ingredient selection, technique and technology to push themselves creatively and to differentiate themselves from the millions of other restaurants vying for attention from potential guests and press.”
“I think that is why many innovators either partner with or market to high level chefs first to help see the range of possibilities that their product can have. It’s helpful to get real time feedback from trusted professionals based on their work, but also the feedback from guests, and build a reputation from all of the diners who walk away from the restaurant continuing the conversation about the innovation through social media and through conversations.”
Impossible Foods is an industry-changing company that develops plant-based meat and dairy products made without animals. Their “Impossible Burger” has become the poster-child of the plant-based protein movement, and recently joined the menu at New York Michelin-starred restaurant Saxon + Parole.
“Impossible Foods was thrilled to be added to the menu at Saxon + Parole, a true meat-lovers restaurant in New York. The decision happened following our partnership talks with Chef Brad Farmerie. With plans to go on menu at PUBLIC, Brad’s Michelin star New York City restaurant, it made sense to also do a different take on the burger at Saxon + Parole. The Saxon burger remains one of our favorite Impossible Burgers to date,” says David Lee, COO & CFO, Impossible Foods.
Three months after his restaurant started serving the Impossible Burger, how has it gone down with customers? And what role can restauranteurs play in encouraging and incentivizing consumers to try new food innovations?
“From my experience at PUBLIC and Saxon + Parole, the Impossible Burger has been a huge success as an emerging ingredient, a vehicle for change, a conversation starter, and as the starring role in a delicious dish,” explains Brad Farmerie.
“If all of the staff of a restaurant are educated as to why the new ingredient/technique is better than the other things that are available, then it makes it a much easier sell. If the chef is able to be creative and innovative with these new foods/techniques it inspires the media to broadcast this message to a wider audience, inspires other chefs to adapt to make sure they are keeping up with trends, and inspires the public to ask questions, do research, and to seek out these new ingredients/techniques/trends.”
It’s an exciting time for food entrepreneurs as restaurants look to offer their customers a variety of new food experiences, so what does the future look like for companies like Impossible Foods? What can we expect to see in our restaurants in 2018 and beyond?
“We recently launched our first large-scale production facility in Oakland, CA, which will enable us to make at least one million pounds of meat per month by year‘s end. That is about four million people per month we will be serving within a year,” reveals David Lee. This is 250 times more Impossible Burgers than the company is currently making. “We also expect to grow our numbers – hiring nearly 80 additional Oakland employees by the time the 67,000-square–foot plant is running at full capacity, along with a series of strategic hires across the company. In 2018 and beyond, you should expect to see Impossible Burgers being served in over 1,000 restaurants, in formats ranging from fine dining to fast casual.”
David Lee, Impossible Foods and Brad Farmerie, Saxon + Parole will be interviewed by Beth Kowitt, Senior Writer of Fortune at Future Food-Tech New York on June 7-8 in a must–see discussion exploring deeper into how restaurant chains are shaping consumer demand for new and innovative foods.
About Rethink Events: UK-based Rethink Events organizes world-renowned business summits for entrepreneurs and investors in sustainable food, agriculture, energy and water. For more information about Rethink visit www.rethinkevents.com
About Future Food-Tech: Future Food-Tech brings together key figures from across the food industry, including investors, start-ups, technology companies and food and ingredients manufacturers to summits in London, New York and San Francisco. With a common goal to meet the global food challenge, the events create a forum for networking, debate, discussion and learning – showcasing the technologies and championing the innovations which have the potential to transform the sector.
Venue: The Westin New York Times Square, 270 W 43rd St, NY, 10036