San Fransisco’s Bar Crenn Just Became the First U.S. Restaurant to Serve Lab-Grown Chicken

Dominique Crenn hasn’t served meat at any of her restaurants since 2018. But that all changed over the weekend.

The Michelin three-star chef added to her Bar Crenn menu on July 1 a dish made with Upside Foods’ cell-cultivated chicken, Nation’s Restaurant News reported on Wednesday. That marked the first time such a product was served to diners in the United States.

“It’s truly an honor to serve Upside’s cultivated chicken at Bar Crenn and introduce cultivated meat to the U.S.,” Crenn said in a statement. “It’s the first time meat has made it back on my menu since 2018 because Upside Chicken is the first meat that I feel good about serving. From its exquisite flavor and texture to its aroma and the way it cooks, Upside Chicken is simply delicious and it represents a significant step towards a more sustainable and compassionate food system.”

Crenn stopped offering meat to diners five years ago largely due to her concerns about how meat production was affecting the environment. Other fine-dining chefs followed suit, with top-tier restaurants like Eleven Madison Park switching to plant-based menus. But now, with brands like Upside Foods receiving approval from the FDA and the USDA to sell their lab-grown meat to consumers, chefs have a new avenue to explore when it comes to animal products.

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At Bar Crenn, the cultivated chicken is fried in a recado negro (Yucatan spice mixture)–infused tempura batter, then served alongside burnt chili aioli and edible flowers and greens from Crenn’s Bleu Belle Farm. It’s plated in a handmade black vessel decorated with Crenn’s logo and Mexican-inspired designs. For the first taste of the new dish, diners were chosen via a social-media contest.

“The landmark sale of Upside’s cultivated chicken at Bar Crenn officially marks cultivated meat’s debut into the U.S. market,” Uma Valeti, the CEO and founder of Upside Foods, said in a statement. “It represents a giant leap towards a world where people no longer have to choose between the foods they love and a thriving planet. I can’t wait for more people to get their first bite—it’s a magical moment that inspires an exciting world of new possibilities.”

The Bar Crenn chicken is just the start of notable chefs’ experiments with cultivated meat: José Andrés said he’d serve Good Meat’s cultivated poultry at one of his Washington, D.C., restaurants, and Marcus Samuelsson has invested in Aleph Cuts’ lab-grown steaks, which he’ll also offer at his restaurants once they gain regulatory approval. It seems like cultivated meat may just be the next fine-dining frontier.

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