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Canada’s Top Tier Foods has confirmed its Wamamae Foods subsidiary is releasing vegan wagyu steak. Offered through its flagship brand, Waygu, the high-end meat alternative will be served to a host of billionaires and celebrities ahead of regular consumers. The meat will be featured as part of the Ted2022 Conference, later this month. Elon Musk, Al Gore, and Bill Gates are confirmed as attending, as speakers.
News of the full commercial rollout comes after a limited trial launch, to gauge reactions to the beef substitute. Carefully chosen shops and sushi restaurants were given the product to test and sell, for a short period of time in 2021. Positive feedback has accelerated the push for wide availability, which is slated for spring this year.
Maintaining the Japanese legacy of wagyu beef
Created in Japan, wagyu beef is a delicacy steeped in heritage and culinary expertise. Because of this, Top Tier sought to work with Japanese development teams and ingredients. Soybeans are used for the protein source, with traditional soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, and garlic used for flavour. The result is a beef analogue so realistic that it managed to deceive Japanese chef and restauranteur Hidekazu Tojo.
“Our team in Japan worked tirelessly to create the textures and flavors that mimic this exceptional beef by using traditional ingredients and cooking methods,” Blair Bullus, CEO of Top Tier Foods told Live Kindly.
Ted showcases as a platform for alt-protein
The Ted Showcase unveiling will propel the Waygu brand to similar notoriety as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, both of which were served at the same event, in previous years. It also guarantees celebrity and invested parties’ attention. Bill Gates is likely to be personally curious about the beef alternative, given his penchant for investing in alt-protein startups. So far, he has backed Nature’s Fynd, Biomilq and Nobell Foods, amongst others. Al Gore, aligned with climate awareness, is similarly expected to be a keen sampler.
It is unknown if Elon Musk holds any interest, though his Tesla Motors did switch to all vegan leather in its premium models. Musk has come under fire previously for performative declarations of planetary stewardship while allowing his company to violate environmental legislation.
Bullus views the Ted Showcase as a potential launchpad for the vegan wagyu. “We are very excited to offer it in this unique atmosphere. This will be the beginning of a wider international launch that will roll out throughout the spring,” he said in a statement. Wamame Foods CEO Jarrett Malnarich is similarly elevated by the opportunity to be plated for the world’s elite.
“TED is known for bringing the best innovation, discussions, passion and influencers from around the world, and to have Waygu part of the conference is an exciting opportunity to showcase our innovative premium product to some of the most influential people.” Malnarich said in a statement. “[we] will be looking at this opportunity as a steppingstone to our North American product launch,” he concluded.
Perfecting premium vegan beef
Waygu was developed to respect but ultimately replace an unsustainable premium product. While it appears to be the first wagyu alternative, it joins a number of other high-end meat cut substitutes that are starting to surprise consumers.
In March last year, Slovenia’s Juicy Marbles debuted the world’s first vegan filet mignon. The whole-cut steak featured realistic marbling, a meaty texture that pulled apart after cooking and a beefy taste that offered an alternative to animal protein. In February Green Queen sampled the realistic vegan meat.
Last November, Israel’s Redefine Meat announced that its whole-cut vegan lamb and beef flanks were being served in fine dining restaurants, prepared by Michelin-starred chefs including Marco Pierre White. “Redefine Meat’s New-Meat products are pure genius, giving you all the sustainability and health benefits of plant-based, without the compromise on taste and texture,” he shared at the time.
Allphotos by Top Tier Foods.