Lab-grown chicken to make debut next month

1880's executive chef Colin Buchan (above) and Eat Just's chef Zachary Tyndall prepared a China-inspired bao with sesame cultured chicken (left) and an American-style maple waffle with a cultured chicken nugget (right).
1880's executive chef Colin Buchan (above) and Eat Just's chef Zachary Tyndall prepared a China-inspired bao with sesame cultured chicken and an American-style maple waffle with a cultured chicken nugget.PHOTO: EAT JUST
1880's executive chef Colin Buchan (above) and Eat Just's chef Zachary Tyndall prepared a China-inspired bao with sesame cultured chicken (left) and an American-style maple waffle with a cultured chicken nugget (right).
1880's executive chef Colin Buchan and Eat Just's chef Zachary Tyndall prepared a China-inspired bao with sesame cultured chicken (above) and an American-style maple waffle with a cultured chicken nugget.PHOTOS EAT JUST
1880's executive chef Colin Buchan (above) and Eat Just's chef Zachary Tyndall prepared a China-inspired bao with sesame cultured chicken (left) and an American-style maple waffle with a cultured chicken nugget (right).
1880's executive chef Colin Buchan and Eat Just's chef Zachary Tyndall prepared a China-inspired bao with sesame cultured chicken and an American-style maple waffle with a cultured chicken nugget (above).PHOTO: EAT JUST

Early birds looking to try Californian start-up Eat Just's Good Meat Cultured Chicken are in for a unique experience.

At an invited tasting yesterday, members of the media had a taste of cultured meat, which is made by culturing animal cells instead of slaughter.

The lab-grown meat will be offered at 1880, a private club in Robertson Quay, to members from next month.

This marks Eat Just's first commercial sale for Good Meat since the meat was approved for sale by the Singapore Food Agency early this month.

Only the last course of the four-course tasting menu at 1880 features the bite-size cultured meat.

In it, two dishes influenced by chicken-producing countries are served side by side.

The China-inspired bao features sliced sesame cultured chicken, pickled cucumber and spring onion, while the American-influenced maple waffle is served with a cultured chicken nugget and hot sauce.

The bite-size chicken pieces in both dishes come with a crisp, battered exterior and a slightly softer texture than conventional chicken.

Next month, the pair of cultured chicken dishes ($23 for both) will be available to members of the 1880 club. The dishes are likely be made available to the public later.

They are prepared by 1880's executive chef Colin Buchan, together with Eat Just's chef and product developer Zachary Tyndall.

In a Zoom interview, Eat Just's chief executive Josh Tetrick says the company will likely retail the product in supermarkets by mid-to end-2022.

Meanwhile, it is looking to expand to other restaurants and "anywhere selling chicken".

He says the current nugget product is in its first phase. The next phase in the coming years will feature what he calls "scaffolding" - the meat will have a more three-dimensional structure with muscle and fat interlacing.

There may be cultured chicken wings, complete with bones and cartilage, in the third phase, he adds. Other products in the pipeline include beef patties and pork sausages.

With plans to scale up production, Mr Tetrick is looking to accelerate the set-up of Eat Just's protein production facility here, but is unsure whether the production of Eat Just's plant-based Just Egg will be in the same compound as those producing the other meats.

Mr Ng Yeen Chern, a director at TL Investments, was one of the invited diners who tried the cultured chicken on Sunday.

He says: "The nugget really tasted like a nugget. If I close my eyes, I don't think I can tell the difference between the cell-based meat and real meat. I've tried other alternative beef before - those are pretty convincing too."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2020, with the headline 'Lab-grown chicken to make debut next month'. Subscribe