Dubai: Would you eat lab-grown meat or cheese? This is what the future could taste like

A food tasting session at the Dubai Future Forum brought together revolutionary companies that gave visitors a special taste

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Tue 28 Nov 2023, 8:10 PM

Last updated: Tue 28 Nov 2023, 11:15 PM

Scrambled eggs, meatballs, cheesecake, chocolate…there was plenty on the menu at the food tasting session at the Dubai Future Forum on Tuesday. Except, every single one of the items was animal free and lab grown.

The session, titled Putting the Future of Food to the Taste Test, brought together some revolutionary companies together to give 30 selected visitors a taste of the future. I was lucky enough to be one of them.

The first thing I wanted to try out was the cheesecake. Would lab made cheese be able to match up to the real deal? Turns out, it could. The light, creamy and delicious cheesecake hit it straight out of the park in the first bite. In fact, I was rendered speechless momentarily, if you watch the video.

Produced by the company Formo, the cheese is made using precision fermentation and is lactose-free as well as animal-free. Raffael Wolgensinger, from the company said he was very happy with the feedback he received from visitors. “People have really enjoyed the product and given us a lot of positive comments,” he said.

On being asked whether these products would be available to buy in the UAE, he said it is something the company is working towards. “We have also seen some interest from local companies,” he said. “We are hoping that we will be able to bring the product to the local market by the end of next year.”

Cheesy and tasty

Apart from the cheesecake, Formo also served up feta cheese, brie, cream cheese and scrambled eggs. The cheese were all delicious, especially the feta. Crumbly and fresh, it tasted delicious along with olive oil and some crackers. The brie had a strong flavour to it while the cream cheese was an absolute treat.

Bo Viktor Nylund, an attendee at the event, said he was impressed with the cheese. “When I turned vegan, cheese was something I missed the most,” he said. “However, this is as close it could get to the original. I am quite impressed.”

The eggs were not as perfect in taste as the cheese. You could taste a difference between real eggs and the lab grown one. However, if I had to choose between either of them, I would definitely go for the more responsible lab-grown one because I could positively impact the environment at a very minimal taste difference.

Chocolate

The next thing on my taste test list was the chocolate. Produced by California Cultured, the chocolate is produced by plant cell culture technology that allows the company to produce cocoa and coffee that have identical characteristics to natural cococa and coffee.

The first one I tried was the dark chocolate that was shaped like a coffee bean. If it was not pointed out to me that it was lab grown, I would not have noticed it. Same goes for the milk chocolate that was served alongside it.

Meat

The meatballs were limited but I got lucky enough to grab a piece. Made of cultured meat, the dish was served with selected condiments. Even though it had a slightly nutty flavour, the meat tasted like lamb. Was it comparable to an actual meatball? Almost but not quite. It was a pleasant enough taste but for me personally, it was not comparable to the real deal. Will I select it to make for a healthier, more sustainable planet? Absolutely.

Brett Thompson, CEO and co-founder of Newform Foods, that produced the meatballs commented: “We’re honoured to be able to showcase some of the work we’ve been doing over the last few months with a global audience here at the Dubai Future Forum."

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