The 50CUT Burger: US Butchery Pat LaFrieda Embraces Blended Meat with Mush Foods Partnership

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US butchery Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors has partnered with mycelium meat startup Mush Foods to debut a burger made from the latter’s 50CUT blend of mushroom root and beef.

Months after announcing its move into US foodservice, New York-based startup Mush Foods has teamed up with Pat LaFrieda to launch the 50CUT Burger, which blends mushrooms with beef in equal proportions for a more planet-friendly meat product.

The 6oz patty uses ground beef and a mix of mushrooms like oyster, trumpet, shiitake, and lion’s mane, and marks the first nationally available burger made with Mush Foods’ 50CUT blend. The partnership will allow the brand access to the 1,600-plus restaurant and foodservice customers supplied by Pat LaFrieda – it recently concluded a limited-edition run as part of the Umami Burger at the Citizens Culinary Market in Manhattan.

Raving about the quality of the burger, the meat purveyor’s namesake owner and CEO Pat LaFrieda said he wanted to link up with Mush Foods and develop the LaFrieda 50CUT Burger after tasting the blended meat – 20 years on from buying the first burger machine for his business. “It delivers on every expectation for a delicious burger while adding nutritional value and being gentler to the planet,” he said.

Making beef better across all aspects

pat lafrieda 50cut
Courtesy: Mush Foods

The LaFrieda 50CUT Burger delivers on four verticals: sustainability, health, price and flavour. Beef is the highest-emitting food on the planet, so halving the amount used in a burger is always going to help restaurants’ carbon footprint. In fact, a study has shown that replacing half of animal products like meat and dairy with plant-based alternatives can halt deforestation, reduce land use by 31%, and double the climate benefits.

Mush Foods’ mycelium is grown on organic substrates in a circular process that involves using upcycled food waste from agricultural sidestreams. The controlled, flightless environment means its solid-state fermentation tech can enable mushroom roots to grow above ground in just eight days – for context, it takes at least a year to farm cows for meat, and about four months to grow soybeans. This means higher yields in smaller timeframes, with the added benefit of working with local mushroom farmers from New York.

The blended meat product also enhances the nutritional value of burgers – apart from providing the complete protein profile (with all essential amino acids) and being rich in potassium, iron and calcium, it’s a source of the dietary fibres (including beta-glucan) that are missing in conventional beef. Plus, it’s clean-label too, with no additives, seasonings, binders and preservatives.

For most restauranteurs and diners, flavour is key to making food choices. Using mushrooms allows 50CUT to provide an umami boost to the burger, addressing a key culinary need. The blended meat also retains the flavour and mouthfeel of conventional meat. That has impressed LaFrieda, who said: “There is an art to a great burger, and the LaFrieda 50CUT is going to amaze burger lovers.”

But it’s not just him – at a tasting of the burger at New York City’s Bar Boulud last month, chef Franklin Becker noted: “If I was eating it blind I’d think it was all beef.” This was reported by New York Times food critic Florence Fabricant, who herself said: “The burger was juicy, and smelled and tasted beefy; it was a fine burger.”

Arguably the most impressive part, though, is the cost, with 50CUT priced cheaper than 100% animal meat. “Not only is there a positive outcome for the environment and for the consumer in terms of flavour, but the price per pound to our customers is less expensive than meat,” Mush Foods co-founder and CEO Shalom Daniel told Green Queen earlier this year.

“We already know that you can have a phenomenal product from an environmental standpoint but if the economics don’t work, it will not thrive. We believe this is a game-changer for the industry,” he added.

Partnering with industry leaders could unlock blended meat’s potential

mush foods
Courtesy: Mush Foods

Fresh from a $6.2M seed funding round last year, Mush Foods is looking to expand its US footprint after debuting its ‘meat-plus’ range in Israel, where it was founded. It will do so with its entire range of 50CUT, which doesn’t just include beef, but also chicken, pork and fish – each is matched with a custom-tailored mycelium mix derived from 14 different species of the fungi.

“The process involves mixing two to three different species of mycelium to produce the exact moisture level, binding ability, taste, colour and texture to complement the unique qualities of each kind of animal protein,” Daniel told me in a wide-ranging interview last year. “Every blend looks and tastes different, as each of the target animal meats has [its] own characteristics.”

This enables the natural flavours of the meat to truly come out, meeting the needs of people who aren’t quite there yet with plant-based meat products. “If we are realistic, it is unlikely that 100% of the global population will become vegan. In some countries, meat will remain a symbol of growing personal wealth, and that won’t change,” noted Daniel. “But we don’t need the entire world to go vegan to have a positive impact on our food supply and environment.”

That philosophy is also being adopted by its competitors in the nascent blended meat space. Los Angeles-based 50/50 Foods is one of them, and has already made its way into Disneyland. Phil’s Finest has been doing well for years, after finding success on Shark Tank (under its former name Misfit Foods). And just this week, Australia’s Harvest B entered the blended meat category with diced beef and lamb for foodservice, with plans to breach the US market next year.

Mush Foods is entirely focused on foodservice too, with no plans for a B2C play. “We cultivate products that the meat and food industries can easily use and blend without having to invest in new capital, change their manufacturing processes, or learn new methods,” Daniel said last year. “We are working efficiently and avoiding expending energy by competing in areas like distribution, retail agreements, branding, etc. Our approach is to collaborate with big players and bring new versions of product favourites to market, or create new blended product lines.”

There aren’t many more suitable people to partner with than LaFrieda, whose butchery has garnered plenty of fans for its premium meats, and industry recognition through partnerships with Minetta Tavern and Shake Shack. Shalom recognises this, saying: “The LaFrieda brand is synonymous with excellence and boasts a legacy of firsts, continually raising the bar and setting the direction for the entire category.”

He added: “Pat LaFrieda is an inspirational innovator and a visionary champion of up-and-coming partners that help expand and develop the meat category. We couldn’t have asked for a more experienced and trusted partner to introduce our first 50CUT collaboration to restaurants, contract foodservice operators and chains nationwide”.


  • Anay Mridul

    Anay is Green Queen's resident news reporter. Originally from India, he worked as a vegan food writer and editor in London, and is now travelling and reporting from across Asia. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, food tech, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford comma.

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