Michelin Precision: Eleven Madison Park Debuts EVERY’s Yeast-Fermented Egg in One-Off Dinner
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Silicon Valley startup The EVERY Company debuted its hen-free egg made from precision fermentation at famed New York City restaurant Eleven Madison Park, which went mostly plant-based in 2021, as the centrepiece of an exclusive one-off dinner last week.
How would you like it if you paid $365 for a plant-based tasting menu and got served a plethora of dishes starring eggs?
Well, that’s along the lines of what Eleven Madison Park trialled last Friday, hosting an exclusive dinner featuring an omelette, a creme brûlée and cocktails using eggs. But these aren’t eggs derived from hens – the three-Michelin-starred eatery spotlit The EVERY Co’s liquid egg made by precision fermentation, marking the first time the restaurant has created an event menu centred around another company’s product.
The special dinner – served to a group of leading culinary innovators, chefs and creators – marked the debut of the EVERY Egg in the foodservice world, a landmark moment for the nine-year-old precision fermentation startup.
“Eggs are a universal staple in every kitchen,” noted Daniel Humm, chef-owner of Eleven Madison Park. “When we prepared an omelette using EVERY Egg, the taste and versatility was all but indistinguishable from hen eggs. We are excited about the potential of EVERY Egg to transform the food landscape.”
How EVERY makes its chicken-free egg
EVERY’s entry into foodservice makes it one of the only precision fermentation brands to do so – fellow Californian producers Perfect Day and New Culture have previously featured their animal-free milk and mozzarella at Starbucks and Pizzeria Mozza, respectively. In fact, it’s among just a handful of startups that have regulatory approval for the sale of precision-fermented foods in the US, and the sole egg maker.
EVERY’s nature-identical egg is made by incorporating the DNA sequences found in conventional egg proteins into a yeast strain called Komagataella phaffii, which is then fermented on a sugar-based feedstock and converted into protein. This is then boosted with additional plant-based ingredients for flavour and texture, resulting in a 1:1 replacement for hen eggs. “We’ve worked tirelessly to create a product that meets the absolute highest standards of the world’s top chefs,” said EVERY general manager Lance Lively. “We looked at every feature and functionality of our egg and worked to perfect it.”
Being an animal-free product, the EVERY Egg has zero cholesterol. Plus, it has no saturated fat and boasts 8g of protein per egg (a chicken egg contains between 5-8g). The startup says its innovations allow manufacturers to sidestep disease risks, price fluctuations, ethical issues, and the environmental footprint of conventional animal proteins.
According to a life-cycle analysis summary by EVERY’s scale-up partner BioBrew, which compared the impact of a fermentation-derived egg protein with an aggregation of conventional poultry eggs, the former emits three times fewer GHG emissions, 67 times less water, and 12 times less land than the latter.
The company has released an EggWhite product too, a “hyperfunctional protein” that has previously been used by brands to make smoothies, macarons and canned cocktails. It has also collaborated with ingredients giant Ingredion and drinks conglomerate AB InBev in the past. And in October, it teamed up with Colombian FMCG giant Grupo Nutresa for the use of its EggWhite as a binding agent in meat alternatives under the Zenú and Pietran brands.
Eleven Madison Park’s big year
It caps off a big year for Eleven Madison Park, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in October with a ‘greatest hits’ tasting menu featuring Climax Foods’ artisanal vegan blue cheese. Additionally, as part of its CPG brand Eleven Madison Home, it previously sold vegan honey Mellody, a subsidiary of Californian company MeliBio (which is separately working to create a precision-fermented honey too).
The upscale Manhattan eatery re-emerged from the pandemic and the brink of bakruptcy as a mostly vegan restaurant in 2021 – its coffee and tea service still offered conventional milk and honey, but everything else on the menu was plant-based. “We have always operated with sensitivity to the impact we have on our surroundings, but it was becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways,” wrote Humm.
Last month, in an interview with the South China Morning Post, he described how “eating meat at some point is going to feel like smoking cigarettes”. And speaking to Wallpaper magazine ahead of the launch of his new book, Eat More Plants, he stressed that people need to eat more plant-based foods.
“I’m not saying that everyone, every day needs to eat plant-based, but we need to reduce [meat consumption]. We’re just running out of resources,” he suggested. “It’s scary to me that the people defining tastes and flavours, the chefs, are completely ignoring what is happening and are continuing to put their efforts behind meat products.”
Lower costs, more restaurants
“We’re honoured to introduce EVERY Egg to the world in spectacular fashion at Eleven Madison Park,” said Lively, adding that the bespoke menu showcased the “quality and culinary versatility” of EVERY Egg in each course. “Each dish is a consummate work of art.”
Appearing at a high-end eatery is a highly positive move for the precision fermentation industry as a whole – but it will inevitably raise questions about costs too. Such novel protein technologies can be pricey, and scaling them up to bring these costs down is paramount to their success. It’s an issue faced by fellow precision fermentation companies too, including Formo and Onego Bio, who are making progress on egg alternatives in Europe.
“Each day that passes, we are marching down the cost curve,” EVERY’s Elizondo told Green Queen last month. “Considering the low cost of inputs for precision fermentation and our demonstrated progress in manufacturing scale-up – we are actively producing at manufacturing-scale fermentation runs of over 100,000 litres – this backdrop sets a clear path to positive unit economics at scale for EVERY.”
EVERY’s foodservice debut signposts a big year ahead for the precision fermentation company. Having raised over $233M in overall funding (with investors including Anne Hathaway), the startup – which has two ‘no questions” letters from the FDA and one under GRAS review – says its egg products are available for sampling to foodservice operators, and will be available at restaurants in 2024.
“For nine years, my dream has been to build a food system humanity can be proud of,” noted Elizondo. “When I met Chef Humm, I knew I had met someone with that same dream, and I am thrilled to join forces to make our shared vision a reality.”