Blending in with the Plant-Based Trend

To promote sustainability and help reduce meat consumption, Mush Foods introduced 50Cut, a mushroom mycelium blend to the US market for chef use in meat, poultry, and fish dishes. To learn more, Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine reached out to  Mush Foods Culinary Director AJ Schaller.

What factors have fueled the increased use of mushrooms in unique ways? What makes them so versatile?

The past few years have shown us a boom in mushroom or mycelium based products in various formats- drinks, supplements, dairy alternatives, growing kits, and even sweets.  Informed consumers have learned how this functional ingredient can be grown with minimal environmental impact, boost immunity, increase vitamin intake and help lower cholesterol. I believe that Mush Foods is the first to harness all of these benefits to create a clean, tasty and sustainable product from the Mycelium/Mushroom root that can be used for an unlimited amount of culinary purposes. Our customers are chefs and foodservice companies who have found the operational benefits of using our 50Cut impressive- from maintaining and boosting flavor and juiciness of meat, to increasing recipe yields all while reaching their goals to cut down on carbon footprints.    

What was the process of creating a blend that would work well in foodservice?

Our team of mycologists and engineers tested hundreds of different species and combinations of wild mushrooms of which to grow the roots above ground. The goal was to create a mix that marries well and mimics the flavor and texture of the meat that they would be added to. From the beginning of the R&D two years ago, there were always notable Chefs and tasters to give input during workshops or events. 

In what ways do the use of mushrooms fit in with dining trends such as sustainability and guests wanting to eat less meat?
  • Consistently consumers talk about trying to eat less meat for health reasons and for sustainability reasons.  However, it’s often easier said than done, and consumers want to know they can really love the taste of what they are eating. Mushrooms are key to enabling that more planet-friendly meal while enhancing, not detracting from the flavor.  Chefs, and consumers already know this, we’re just here to make it easy for chefs to serve it up.   We know chefs can make it 
  • More broadly in sustainability, restaurants and foodservice are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint and to meet sustainability targets many have committed to. However, the fact is that it’s what they bring into the restaurant that has the most significant impact.  Up until now it’s been hard for a restaurant or a foodservice operator to manage the impact of sourced meat, while still delivering dishes guests want and love.
  • Plant-based products have seen some success but their appeal to a broad base of guests remain limited.
  • On the culinary side — Mushrooms enhances taste and juiciness but also adds fiber and nutrients while increasing yield, addressing many of the core culinary needs across the foodservice and restaurant industry today. Each blend is meticulously crafted from a selection of premium culinary-grade mushrooms like oyster, trumpet, shiitake, and lion’s mane, to replicate the moisture, binding, and sensory qualities of traditional meats.
  • So when you look across all those trends Mush Food 50Cut really is a wonderful option. Restaurants and food service operators can add 50Cut into recipes in place of some meat, poultry or fish (can in fact be a significant percentage,) which enhances flavor and nutritional benefits, while improving the cost and environmental impact of every dish.
  • So, for people who are hungry for an exceptional burger, chicken, or fish dish while also looking to moderate their meat consumption, 50Cut gives chefs a unique and delicious way to deliver against consumer demands.
What are some best suggestions for chefs looking to use the blends in existing recipes as well as in crafting new ones?

The first suggestion for chefs would be to combine the mushroom with ground meats, this is where we can help make a healthier dish without compromising the flavor and texture or meat that people like. We suggested ratio of approximately half of the meat replaced by the mushroom by volume. We’ve had great success with burgers, sausages, kafta and nuggets. Another nice thing is you can make recipes like meatballs and meatloaf without gluten by substituting the moisture retention of the bread with the mushroom which traps and keeps juices inside.

My second suggestion would be to use in sauces, soups and chilis in addition to -or in replacement of- meat. I like to roast the mushroom first with the other vegetables for an extra nuttiness. I find that the mushrooms soak up broth or liquid base in the recipe just like it does in meat, resulting in a thickening effect that gives the recipe a lot of body.

A third suggestion would be for any recipe that you’d put mushrooms in! Risotto, pastas, flatbreads, quiche, dumplings, sky is the limit. You can have the same tasty recipes while removing the labor and prep time of having to wash, chop or roast your mushrooms. 

How does the cost of using mushroom blends compare to meat use in recipes?

There is this tension – restaurants and foodservice are very open to using mushrooms but they can be expensive and challenging – both the mushrooms themselves and the labor and time needed to prepare them. 

50Cut is cost efficient and provides economic upsides. The mushroom blends will cost less than beef. We remove the labor and time barrier entirely because our mushroom blends are ready to cook. In addition, 50Cut improves the cooking yield – the blend significantly reduces the loss you see when you cook with meat.

What are some health benefits of using more mushrooms in foodservice?
  • 100-percent natural mushroom roots and mushrooms
  • Great source of dietary fibers including beta-glucan
  • Complete protein with all nine essential amino acids
  • Rich in potassium, iron, and calcium
  • Dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free and allergen free