In an exploding food space of alternative protein sources and petri-protein, the latest product has only three ingredients – mushrooms, salt and natural flavor. Meati is the latest buzz among top chefs like Evan Funke of Felix Trattoria and Mother Wolf, as well as Momofuku Founder David Chang.
The Colorado startup cofounded by Tyler Huggins launches a category of whole-cut, whole-food alternative meats, today. The Meati Classic Cutlet and Meati Crispy Cutlet are made of mycelium, a superfood protein similar to the root structure of mushrooms, with nutritional benefits in a low-calorie, whole food that delivers 25g of protein and more than one-third of daily fiber needs per serving, using less than 1% of the water and land compared to conventional meat. The classic cutlet clocks in at 120 calories per serving, 170 for the crispy version, and both are sugar- and cholesterol-free.
“I’m big on the al dente spectrum and I was immediately struck by the texture of it,” Funke tells L.A. Weekly at a recent pop up at Felix, where he served the product as chicken parmigiana in between slices of his signature pillowy focaccia. “It has the texture, the look and even the strata of a chicken breast. I’ve cooked it at least a dozen different ways – braised, fried, grilled, smoked – in ragus. It’s super versatile.”
Huggins, an environmental engineer, says that Meati is the healthiest way to feed the planet, leaving a significantly reduced environmental footprint by harnessing a natural phenomenon in nature called mycelium, the root structure of a mushroom, that contains all the nutrition.
The fibrous structure is cultivated and harvested in a Boulder, Colorado facility that looks like a microbrewery and then is gently formed into cuts that taste and look like animal meat, and is alive throughout the whole process. No toxins, hormones or antibiotics. Natural marinades are used since the mycelium is bland and will take on whatever flavor is added. For the steak filet version, beet juice is added.
“People want real food,” says Huggins, who grew up in big agriculture on his parents’ grass fed bison farm. “I know what it takes to feed the world, it’s a lot of resources and is unlikely to be sustainable the way we’re doing it. My mission is to create something that can have positive change globally.”
David Chang, chef and founder of Momofuku and Majordomo Media, has signed on to serve as a Meati Ambassador, partnering with the brand on various projects from consumer education to product collaborations, cooking tutorials and recipes for each cut, rolling out across Meati’s social channels and Meati.com.
“When I first saw the steak, I pressed my finger into it and the beet juice came out of it,” says Funke, who also is an investor in the fungi startup. “That’s this user experience that a lot of products on the market don’t have, that unappetizing look of pale mashed up meat. It looks natural because it is natural, which makes it an outlier in this space.”
Starting today, Meati’s Classic Cutlet and Crispy Cutlet are available on Meati.com, with Meati’s Steak available later this spring.