The £250,000 patty – Cornish chef Richard McGeown cooks world’s first test tube lab beef burger in London
The first beef burger to be successfully grown from scratch in a laboratory from cow stem cells hit oil in London today – and it was a Cornish chef holding the pan.
The burger was cooked in a little sunflower oil and butter by Richard McGeown, head chef at Couch’s Great House Restaurant in Polperro, Cornwall.
The round, pink mass sizzling in the frying pan looked like any other burger, and probably one from the cheaper end of the market.
But this five ounce patty, costing the juicy sum of £250,000, was far from ordinary.
Some believe it could usher in a food revolution.
Two food experts, one a writer and the other a nutritionist, tasted the “cultured meat” in front of an invited audience of 200 journalists and VIP guests.
Their verdict? It’s looks like beef, feels like beef but does not quite – yet – taste like beef.
After browning for a few minutes it was served up with an accompaniment of lettuce, tomato and bread buns.
American food writer Josh Schonwald, author of the book The Taste of Tomorrow, said after chewing thoughtfully for some time: “The texture, the mouth feel, has a feel like meat.
“The absence is, I feel, the fat. There is a leanness to it. But the bite feels like a conventional hamburger.
“What is most conspicuous is definitely the flavour.”
Fellow guest, Austrian food scientist and author Hanni Rutzler, who was the first to try the burger, said: “I was expecting the texture to be more soft.
“There is a bite to it. There is quite some intense taste.
“It’s close to meat – it’s not that juicy but the consistency is perfect.”
Next to take a bite was Dutch scientist Professor Mark Post, who produced the burger in his laboratory at the University of Maastricht, from stem cells taken from two living cows.
“I think it’s a very good start,” he said.
“This was mostly to prove that we could do it. I’m very happy.”
The tasting event took place at London’s Riverside Studios in Hammersmith on a stage converted into a kitchen/diner.
Prof Post believes laboratory grown cultured meat could appear in supermarkets in 10 to 20 years time
It took 20,000 tiny strips of muscle tissue grown from stem cells to make the burger.
Other ingredients included salt, egg powder, breadcrumbs, red beetroot juice and saffron.
Mr McGeown, who has held positions with top chefs including Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc and Gordon Ramsay, appeared surprised and impressed as he prepared the most exclusive and expensive dish of his career.
Close up images showed him spooning fat over the browning patty on giant monitor screens.
“There’s a very subtle smell,” he said. “It’s literally cooking like any other burger I’ve cooked before.
“It’s held up incredibly well. We’ve got a fantastic colour; it looks incredibly appetising.”