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Michelin Starred Chef Manrique Joins Aqua Cultured Foods to Launch “Exceptional” Alt Seafood Whole Cuts

Aqua Cultured Foods, a pioneer of altseafood whole cuts set to launch commercially for the first time in January 2024, has announced the appointment of renowned chef Laurent Manrique as its inaugural culinary advisor.

“Every day we are looking for ways to truly make our product exceptional”

The Chicago-based food tech develops a new type of animal-free seafood using a technology that leverages a fungi strain and fermentation to transform unprocessed organic matter into realistic alternatives of tuna, whitefish, calamari, shrimp, and scallops. 

In his new role, Chef Manrique will ensure that Aqua’s developments have the best possible flavor, texture, color, and overall appeal to be a one-to-one seafood replacement and win over consumers. 

Chef Manrique is a French restaurateur and owner of Café de la Presse, a popular French restaurant in San Francisco. He earned two Michelin stars for three consecutive years (2006-2008), working as the corporate executive chef of Aqua, an upscale seafood restaurant in San Francisco (now closed), where he was famous for his tuna tartare. 

Plant-Based Sushi/ Seafood
© Aqua Cultured Foods

Exceptional seafood

“Every day we are looking for ways to truly make our product exceptional and we realized that in order to achieve that mission, we had to surround ourselves with the best chefs in the world who are as obsessed with taste as we are,” Anne Palermoco-founder and CEO of Aqua Cultured Foods,” told vegconomist.

Aqua Cultured Foods says its R&D team has been perfecting its products for the last year to achieve sushi-quality standards and a better nutritional profile than its animal counterparts. According to the company’s description, its seafood alternatives are “truly exceptional”: GMO, plant protein concentrates, and starches-free. Moreover, they contain fiber, protein, micronutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids.  

Aqua Cultured Foods Fish
© Aqua Cultured Foods

“Tremendous feedback”

The company recently raised $5.5M in seed funding and broke ground on a new facility in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. It will begin scaling production to bring its ultra-realistic alt seafood to market through chef partners and food service distributors.

To get consumer feedback, the company held its first beta testing, intending to solicit feedback from participants on the products’ quality compared to conventional seafood products, especially texture. 

“In April we did our first beta testing with consumers and had tremendous feedback, and as of today, we are targeting a January 2024 commercial launch,” said Palermo. 




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