The Impossible Burger made its public debut today at Momofuku Nishi restaurant in New York. The Impossible Burger made its public debut today at Momofuku Nishi restaurant in New York. The Impossible Burger made its public debut today at Momofuku Nishi restaurant in New York. (Photo: Impossible Foods)

NYC restaurant is making hamburger history

Manhattan eatery is the first to serve up the 'Impossible Burger.'

A burger that looks, cooks, smells, sizzles and tastes like conventional ground beef but is made entirely from plants? Impossible, right?

Well, yes and no. This innovative culinary creation is the brainchild of Stanford biochemistry professor Patrick O. Brown, renowned vegan Israeli chef Tal Ronnen and cheese maker Monte Casino from Le Cordon Bleu in Boston. The trio set up shop in California's Silicon Valley and called themselves Impossible Foods. And now, they've debuted their Impossible Burger, made of what CEO Brown calls a "combination of proteins, fats, amino acids and vitamins derived from wheat, the roots of soybean plants, coconuts, potatoes and other plant sources," at a top New York restaurant.

Yes, finally, the burger is available to the public at Momofuku Nishi, an eatery in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood founded by world-renowned chef David Chang. And Chang himself is calling it a win.

“I was genuinely blown away when I tasted the burger,” he said. “The Impossible Foods team has discovered how to re-engineer what makes beef taste like beef. We’re always looking to support people who are making the best products in the best ways possible and to me, the Impossible Burger is one more example. First and foremost, we think this makes a delicious burger.”

So what makes this burger mimic meat so precisely? As its founders say, it's a matter of molecular biology.

In Impossible Foods' research phase, they discovered a molecule called heme, which is found in both meat and plants. In fact, it's a basic molecular building block of life on Earth, and it's essentially what makes meat look and taste ... well, meaty. The company uses a plant-based heme protein to replicate that taste in its burgers.

Impossible burger pattiesWould you be able to tell the difference between real ground beef and the Impossible burger's plant-based patties? (Photo: Impossible Foods)

And so far, it's working wonders. One business publication likened the burger's sizzle and aroma to "a backyard barbecue" and said it's "a viable option for a meal anytime, anywhere." Another outlet said it's poised to become "the Tesla of food."

For their part, the folks at Impossible Foods have one primary mission in mind: to produce delicious, nutritious, affordable plant-based foods with a lower environmental impact than raising animals for food.

"With its introduction at Momofuku Nishi, we have begun the movement to build a new kind of global food system, one that creates new markets for farmers, supports a more resilient food supply, and offers consumers new choices for the meat and dairy products they know and love – ones that are equally delicious but made from plants," CEO Brown said.

half Impossible burgerCritics are raving about the Impossible Burger's authenticity and how closely it resembles real burger meat. (Photo: Impossible Foods)

And the burger, he said, is only the beginning. Impossible Foods plans to lower the price of the burger as production increases, so that eventually it's the same price or lower than commercial beef. It's also expected to grace the menus of several restaurants in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Grocery stores and overseas markets are sure to follow.


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