Creator of Burger King’s Impossible Whopper takes on plant-based chicken industry
Chef Michael Salem, the former head of culinary innovation at Burger King who played a pivotal role in introducing the plant-based Impossible Whopper to the menu, is now gearing up to challenge the dominant players in the alternative-meat industry. His strategy hinges on a single factor – flavor.
Salem has announced the official launch of Recreate Foods, a venture-backed, plant-based food company headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, that specializes in developing culinary-forward chicken alternatives that deliver a better flavor experience than big-name competitors and the traditional animal protein. Salem assumes the position of President & Co-founder of the company, alongside the backing of three Arizona-based companies: Creation, founded by Bob Agahi and David Sellers; Flagstaff Ventures, led by Craig Weiss; and M Culinary, run by Brandon Maxwell and Chef Michael DeMaria.
“After working as a chef for 25 years and spearheading menu strategy and innovation for prominent restaurant chains across the country, I’ve never been so instantly amazed by the flavor of a plant-based chicken alternative as I was when I first sampled the recipe that now forms the foundation of Recreate Foods,” said Salem. “I was first introduced to the product during my plant-based journey from Burger King to Hart House where I helped lead the advent of Kevin Hart’s modern, quick-service restaurant in Los Angeles. I immediately knew I wanted to help make this exceptional product accessible to as many people as possible. The most effective way to do that was to assist in establishing a solid company with strong support, propelled by an extraordinary product. I’m proud to be on this journey with the Recreate team as we introduce a chef-driven approach to best-in-class, plant-based analogs.”
Recreate’s products are made for chefs with 100% plant-based ingredients that are non-GMO pea protein and zero cholesterol. Leveraging Salem’s extensive culinary background, the company has recreated all the classic cuts of chicken – breaded and unbreaded filets, tenders, nuggets and grounds – with all the flavor and texture and none of the chicken.
As part of its launch phase, Recreate Foods has recently secured wholesale distribution deals with two of the nation’s largest food-service suppliers, Sysco and Shamrock Foods Company, as they drive rapid growth across multiple food-service retail channels.
“Recreate Foods is not a technology company, as many plant-based brands claim to be,” added Craig Weiss, Co-founder of the company. “Under Michael’s leadership, we are a culinary-driven food company specializing in developing crave-worthy, memorably delicious recipes that happen to be plant-based. It’s been exciting to see an overwhelmingly positive response to the product from some of the top names in the food world. At first taste – they are blown away.”
Recreate Foods stands ahead of the competition by committing to a culinary, not scientific, brand ethos. The founding chefs, including Freddy Krems, focus on what consumers care about most in a meal experience - great taste. While the company leverages cutting-edge technology to develop its base proteins, this means little without guidance from the chef community. This plant-based chicken is made by chefs, for chefs to create an eating experience like no other.
“M Culinary Concepts introduced Recreate Foods plant-based chicken at the 2022 WM Phoenix Open golf tournament,” commented Brandon Maxwell, Co-founder & CEO. “Attendees raved about flavor and texture as we sold out for the weeklong event. We doubled quantities for the 2023 tournament and already are planning to serve even more next year. We’ve been excited this year to feature Recreate at several other of our clients’ events and workplace dining operations.”
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