Can mushrooms replace meat farms? Vegan chef Derek Sarno, the creator of Tesco’s wildly-successful Wicked Kitchen range of plant-based readymade meals, believes that it’s possible.
In a recent episode of the #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast, Derek revealed that he and his brother Chad are working on launching a mushroom-based meat company. The new initiative, named “Wicked Meaty,” will work with chicken farmers to convert their farms into mushroom grow houses. Derek, who previously worked as the senior global executive chef for Whole Foods Market, said that the idea was sparked when the company required him to visit livestock farms. It was there that he noticed the similarity between mushroom grow houses and chicken farms.
Derek hopes to work with livestock farmers to convert their existing facilities into vegan mushroom meat grow houses that would potentially supply Wicked Meaty. The end goal is to reduce animal suffering while providing farmers with an alternative, cruelty-free, and sustainable livelihood.
I’m putting a ?? band together. . . I’ve a dream we move away from raising animals to kill for flesh and food, that shit’s not working anymore. Mushrooms are an answer and we’re showing how it works, we’re proving it and it’s coming, I feel it. #notetoself #addmushroomstogrocerylist #missiondriven #solutionoriented #wickedhealthy #noneedtokillshitforflavor
Derek and Chad have perfected the method for cooking mushrooms in a way that yields a meaty flavor and texture. Mushrooms are a key ingredient in various vegan meals from Tesco’s Wicked Kitchen range, which exceeded sales expectations by selling four million meals since launching last January.
Derek, who acts as Director of Plant-Based Innovation at Tesco in order to develop new Wicked Kitchen meals, also regularly shares his vegan mushroom meat creations on his Instagram, showcasing how versatile the ingredient can be. He uses both methods applied to traditional meat dishes and some unique techniques, many of which are detailed in the recently-released “The Wicked Healthy Cookbook: Free.From.Animals.”
Wicked Meaty isn’t the only new project on the horizon for the Sarno brothers. Derek revealed in the podcast that he plans to launch a Wicked Healthy online cooking program in order to familiarize customers with plant-based food. Last August, it came to light that Derek and Chad are working on a vegan travel docu-series with vegan actor Woody Harrelson acting as producer. Called “Wicked Healthy World,” the new show will feature global leaders of the sustainable food space. The brothers are also in the midst of helping to launch Good Catch Foods, a vegan seafood brand that swaps fish for beans and legumes. The new company recently received $8.7 million in investment to bring its sustainable plan-based seafood to market.