Eric Ripert, Company Explore Uses Of Fungi-Based Products
In 2022, mycelium-based food alternative producer Nature’s Fynd announced a collaboration with Michelin Star chef Eric Ripert at Le Bernadin, the renowned restaurant in New York City. Ripert announced that he would incorporate Fy, a dairy-free cream cheese made by Nature’s Fynd, in new summer dessert dishes.
A year later, Ripert collaborated with Nature’s Fynd and used Fy in salad dressings. He noted how the dairy-free product is a versatile ingredient with a low environmental impact.
“I very often say Fy is magical,” Ripert said in a press release. “Because when you think about it, you really can’t imagine the versatility of this fungi protein, but Nature’s Fynd is able to make a dairy-free cream cheese and a meatless breakfast sausage, and now these dressings that we just created with Fy.”
The dressings included a Miso Caesar, Zesty Goddess, and Herbed Ranch; they were all animal-free, light in calories, and used less oil than other salad dressings. They are currently sold out on Nature Fynd’s website.
Ripert has been working in Le Bernardin’s kitchen for more than 30 years. He became head chef in 1991, winning three Michelin Stars in 2006 for excellence in culinary arts. A prominent feature alongside the late great Anthony Bourdain’s TV show “Parts Unknown,” Ripert has tasted millions of spices, sweeteners, and ingredients from across all corners of the planet.
Photo Courtesy Nature’s Fynd
The first Fy-inspired dishes were desserts: a cheesecake made from Fy-filled squash blossom with blackberry sorbet and an apricot sorbet with chamomile ice cream. They were created in collaboration with Orlando Soto, the executive pastry chef at Le Bernadin.
In addition to the collaborations, Ripert also became a culinary advisor for the company in 2022. The goal is to help them realize the full potential of their alternative food lines, which include items like meatless sausage.
Nature’s Fynd started as a project commissioned by NASA scientists studying fungi in Yellowstone National Park. Co-founder Mark Kozubal was researching a microbe that lived in the hot springs. The scientists harvested the Fusarium strain flavolapis fungi found in acidic springs in the park.
The original goal was to study the microbes’ thriving ecosystem. Nature’s Fynd can synthesize this fungus into a healthy, sustainable protein alternative using a fermentation process. The final product has all 20 amino acids.
The company does research and development out of Bozeman, Montana, and grows the Fy in Chicago. The growing process has a low water consumption rate and doesn’t require pesticides or fertilizers to grow fast. They are fermented in the same acidic liquid they occupy in Yellowstone.
Photo Courtesy Meina Yin
“We are a company of optimists and know that Fy has the capacity to completely redefine our impact on the planet and on our health,” Thomas Jonas, co-founder and CEO, said in a press release. “Eric shares in our optimism about Fy, so together, we’ve embarked on a fun adventure to uncover the boundless possibilities of the protein. These delicious Vegan Fy Dressings are just the beginning of this journey.”
Nature’s Fynd has a benefits-sharing agreement with Yellowstone, meaning they have a right to harvest the microbes needed for Fy.
The park receives compensation — monetary or non-monetary — for allowing this research and cultivation. The company provides research about pathogens that target mammals and aquatic life and develops databases to monitor the genetic diversity of pathogens in the park.
Interested customers can buy Nature’s Fynd products at Whole Foods and Sprouts as well as online. It can be used in a variety of dishes. Outside desserts and salad dressings, Ripert has used it in a potato dish, smoked salmon baguettes, and other creations.
“It is very versatile, he told the New York Post. “Because it’s a protein, it doesn’t break. You can turn it into chicken nuggets, anything.”