Alpha Food Labs and the Future of Food

At its core, Alpha Food Labs has a simple mission: research, invest in, and create innovative foods that are more sustainable, healthy, and tasteful than what currently exists today. And co-founder and co-CEO Mike Lee is committed to bringing the conversation around the future of food and its current problems to the community.

“The future of food is everything,” says Lee. “We want to inspire and educate the food industry on where the future of food might go. We’re not dictating what the future of food will be—we’re offering opportunities for conversation and inspiration.”

While growing up in Detroit, Lee loved to go to The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) every year. He most loved to see the cars that were not going to be for sale: the concept cars. Lee eventually began to ask himself: “Who is doing concept car level stuff in food?” Concept cars are designed to inspire other automakers; he wanted a food company that did the same for the industry.

And consumers are asking for it. “People have woken up to the fact that food impacts your body and the environment in very profound ways,” says Lee. Plant-based has become a billion dollar industry, and what started as a niche market is becoming a key investment for companies like Tyson Foods.

Alpha Food Labs also includes companies Food+Tech Connect and The Future Market. Food+Tech Connect specializes in providing the most up-to-date research on what is currently happening in food technology, while The Future Market offers concept food products and experiences largely based on that research.

Lee and his company have been involved in flavor development for a number of products, including plant-based yogurt Lavva. The yogurt uses plant-based ingredients—including Pili nuts, young plantains, coconut, and cassava—that together create a creamy, delicious taste eerily similar to that of animal-based yogurt.

Lee does not advocate for any particular diet, and is determined to maintain a critical eye on all types of products—whether animal-based or plant-based. “There is no such thing as one optimal diet,” adds Lee. “At the end of the day, it’s not about the right diet. It’s the diet that’s right for you.”

Listen to the above episode of Food Out Loud to learn more about the future of Alpha Food Labs and the ever-evolving problem of sustainability.

Produced by:

Nathan Mikita

Producer

FAT Brands Embraces Ghost Kitchens

FAT Brands is adding ghost kitchens to its repertoire. The global franchising company has acquired a number of major restaurant brands, including Fatburger, Buffalo’s Express, and Yalla Mediterranean. And, in a unique spin on the ghost kitchen concept, some of those brands might be seeing their menu items available for delivery via other brick-and-mortar restaurants owned by the conglomerate.

Ghost kitchens represent a low risk delivery option for budding entrepreneurs and restaurants. For those looking to start a business in high-rent places like New York City, ghost kitchens save hundreds of thousands of dollars in square footage alone.

Updating and expanding a menu is also an easier and more lucrative process. Peter Schatzberg, the founder of virtual kitchen Green Summit, notes that for a traditional restaurant, it can cost over $800,000 to try a new menu. For Green Summit, if a menu fails to gain traction, the company only loses about $25,000.

According to Andy Wiederhorn, the president and CEO of FAT Brands, the company simply wants to do what is best for customers. “We want to take the opportunity to offer our brands everywhere we can,” says Wiederhorn. “We don’t necessarily have to have a brick-and-mortar location.”

Just last month, FAT Brands acquired fast casual chain Elevation Burger for $10 million. Elevation Burger currently maintains over 50 locations worldwide. Later this year, FAT Brands intends to offer a modified Elevation Burger menu out of select sister brand restaurants for delivery purposes only. According to Wiederhorn, the move would ideally provide a supplementary revenue source for franchise partners.

“It doesn't grow unit count, it grows total sales per franchisee,” adds Wiederhorn. “Our entire focus is on the success of our franchisees.”

FAT Brands has already implemented a similar co-branding strategy for its Fatburger and Buffalo’s Express brands. Over 100 of Fatburger and Buffalo’s Express restaurants are placed in the same location, uniting the two brands under one roof and driving up the average unit volume by 20 to 30 percent.

FAT Brands is also looking to experiment with adding a few plant-based and vegan Fatburger items to the Elevation Burger menu. Elevation Burger already prioritizes organic and sustainable meat, so FAT Brands is hoping current customers will be interested in trying plant-based options. And according to Wiederhorn, Tyson’s plant-based nuggets—courtesy of its Raised & Rooted brand—may also be on the menu.

This Brand CMO Predicts the Technologies that Will Reign at Restaurants in 2019

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Technology has changed everything and will only continue to do so. When it comes to food, there's so much potential for technology to help make a positive impact.

So what does the future hold for the restaurant industry? How will technology help to enhance operations or the guest experience?

Nabeel Alamgir, the chief marketing officer at Bareburger made some predictions in a recent opinion piece for "Forbes" where he said that augmented reality is expected to take the dining experience to the next level.

"If your customer finishes their drink, the technology recognizes this and prompts their server for a refill. Additionally, augmented reality allows your customers to see a 360-degree, digital rendition of each menu item right in front of them," writes Alamgir.

Although Alamgir predicts that augmented reality will become more mainstream, he also thinks that table-top kiosks will continue to pop-up at restaurants.

This technology can be a waiter's best friend. It enables guests to order or ask for a drink refill without being asked by a server. They can even pay on the tablet.

"Kiosks have the potential to improve your turnover rate and keep your company on trend, assuming the initial growing pains are overcome," writes Alamgir.

Plant-based proteins are rooted in science and technology. In 2019, these innovations are only going to become more popular, especially as consumers gravitate away from traditional meat.

"Meat alternatives often work for everyone’s diet, religion and beliefs, so there’s no reason not to offer them as options for your customers.," writes Alamgir.

What other technology and food trends does this marketer think will take over the restaurant industry come 2019? Read more at "Forbes" now.

On a recent episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron gave his own predictions about what the future holds for the restaurant industry. Six out of his eight predictions were spot-on. Watch the video to see what Barron thinks will take off this year.

Are Meat-Free Delicatessens The Next Big Thing In Foodservice?

If 2018 wasn't 2019 will be the year of the vegan, and we should all be excited about that. Because whether you agree with it or not we all need to have more vegetables on our plates. Vegans are merely pushing the food industry to get better and challenging non-vegans to think about their food an where it comes from and what the costs are to our environment and our health.

Atlas is a Meat-Free Delicatessen that provides healthy and nutritious plant-based food, without losing sight of why people enjoy comfort food and their food quality and flavors are taking the Miami market by storm.

I got the unique opportunity to meet the founders of Atlas Meat-Free Delicatessen Ryan and Amanda Bauhaus, and to try some of their food. Their backgrounds are not in food, but these two came together as a couple, and embarked on a mission to bring delicious vegan food to the vegan or vegetarian curious.

Ryan and Amanda are aware of the stigmas the vegans have come to represent and have formulated their brand to make sure they were not preaching to people but rather inspiring people, and they are inspiring people with great food.

Ryan and Amanda call their food "low food tech" - From buttermilk fried chicken to mozzarella cheese, This is real food made through careful experimentation to make vegan food accessible, delicious, and familiar.

Show Notes

  • 14:26 - Does the word vegan have a negative connotation?

  • 19:26 - Let the food speak for itself

  • 43:13 - Ryan? Are you a mad scientist?

  • 1:50 - Meat :) Ryan and Amanda Baubaus, founders of Atlas Meat-Free Delicatessen.

  • 4:43 - Becoming Vegans

  • 10:54 - How did the idea of Atlas come about?


Research by:

Nathan Mikita

Nathan Mikita

Director of New Media/Producer


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Vitamix The Quiet One Mixes Noise Reduction Innovation with Their Trusted Industry Standard Blenders

www.vitamix.com

www.vitamix.com

In this episode of Smart Kitchen and Bar our host and culinarian Andi Tillis, makes a green smoothie to showcase the groundbreaking features of “The Quiet One” by Vitamix.

Many of today’s restaurants have brought their kitchens from the back of the house to the front of the house for a variety of reasons. One reason is for the theater of it all; another is for transparency when it comes to the ingredients and preparation; yet another is for logistical reasons like moving people quickly through a fast-casual restaurant model. But in all three scenarios, one consideration remains constant and that is the noise floor of your kitchen in your restaurant. You want to create an environment where the customer experience is not ruined by a loud kitchen, which could make it impossible for customers to enjoy your dining space or hear as they move through a line and try to communicate with your staff.

www.vitamix.com

www.vitamix.com

Enter “The Quiet One” by Vitamix. The revolutionary blender features 93 variable speeds, 6 optimized programs, 34 available settings, auto shut-off and of course the patented noise reduction enclosure. The Vitamix performs 12 culinary techniques like heating, blending, and pureeing – which we discuss in this episode. But it can do much more. Check out the techniques on the Vitamix website.

As chefs and brands alike are presenting healthy options on their menus, like plant-based menu and drink options, the focus of bringing healthy breakfast smoothies to your brand can be a differentiator and is part of why “The Quiet One” presents an entirely new approach to blending.

Foodable Labs reported on how the growth of plant-based is exploding, with a 78 percent increase in the past year on consumer discussions around plant-based menu items.  This is up considerably from 2017.

Additionally, with coffeehouses, juice parlors, and high-end cocktail bars all seeing expansion and most implementing open kitchen designs, seeking out a trusted industry blender like “The Quiet One” by Vitamix, maintains the quality standards customers have come to expect while handling the noise of commercial blending.