New Culture’s Pizzeria Mozza Debut Sets a New Standard for Animal-Free Cheese
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In 2021, San Francisco food tech startup New Culture said it was planning to launch its precision fermentation mozzarella into pizzerias by 2023. The company is making good on that promise, launching in Nancy Silverton’s iconic Los Angeles restaurant, Pizzeria Mozza.
In collaboration with James Beard Award-winning chef Nancy Silverton, New Culture’s novel precision fermentation casein-based cheese is coming to one of America’s most celebrated pizzerias — marking its first foray into food service.
New Culture says its product is the first animal-free cheese to meet Silverton’s standards and the first to be offered at any of her restaurants, which are known for their quality cheese selections.
“We always try to accommodate our guests at Pizzeria Mozza, including those with unique dietary preferences. However, we don’t always have the right solution,” Silverton said in a statement earlier this month. “I’ve always been of the school of thinking that just because it’s a substitute doesn’t mean it needs to be anything less than spectacular. When I tried New Culture cheese, I was surprised and excited by the integrity of the product and really felt it lived up to our standards. I am so excited to offer New Culture cheese at Pizzeria Mozza.”
New Culture’s microbe-based cheese tastes just like conventional cheese, except without the need for any animal inputs. The result is a cheese that’s more sustainable and healthier.
Silverton and the New Culture team worked hand-in-hand to create two new pizza recipes for the Pizzeria Mozza menu: a traditional margherita and a caponata pizza with eggplant, tomato confit, pickled onions, and caperberries. The partnership will also include a series of launch events to showcase the custom pizzas starting in early June at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, followed by additional events in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco.
“New Culture’s mozzarella is a first-of-its-kind product, and we couldn’t be prouder to introduce it with Nancy Silverton, who is an iconic chef, restaurateur, baker and pizzaiola. It’s quite literally the perfect pairing,” said Matt Gibson, CEO and co-founder of New Culture. Gibson co-founded New Culture alongside Inja Radman.
“We believe consumers shouldn’t have to compromise on stretch, melt, taste or sustainability when enjoying their favorite cheeses and we can’t wait to see New Culture mozzarella on pizzeria menus nationwide, starting at Pizzeria Mozza,” Radman, New Culture’s CSO, added.
According to the startup, thanks to its animal-free casein, the mozzarella will bear the textural and sensorial qualities and even stretchiness of its real cow-based counterpart – something that Gibson believes current plant-based products on the market haven’t managed to achieve.
“Casein proteins are very difficult to make using precision fermentation, but we have made numerous breakthroughs over the last 18 months to produce substantial amounts of animal-free casein protein,” Gibson told Food Navigator in 2021.
“This ability to make significant quantities of casein protein has enabled us to be the only company 100 percent focused on mozzarella, as mozzarella is so reliant on casein,” he said.
Similar to precision fermentation whey protein, which category pioneer Perfect Day has developed and is incorporated into milk, chocolate bars, and ice cream, among other products, New Culture says its casein is better suited to cheese.
“Whey makes only limited cheeses such as ricotta and cream cheese. We can make delicious cheese with and without caseins in a micellar form,” explained Gibson.
He said the company also aims to have a consumer-facing brand, “think Impossible Foods – with co-branding on the products that are sold with New Culture cheese.,” he said.
Late last year New Culture announced an investment from the $23 billion Korean conglomerate CJ CheilJedang — the world’s leading supplier of fermentation-based bio-products, and 25 percent market-share holder in the U.S. frozen pizza market. The investment brought New Culture’s total funding to more than $28 million, according to Crunchbase.