In the heart of Hayes Valley, an upscale neighborhood packed with boutique shops and eateries in central San Francisco, Chef de Partie Joshua Yap slices into a rich, steaming parmesana. Despite it being just one of many he’s produced over the past few weeks, every bite he takes leaves him amazed.
“As a non-vegan chef,” says Yap, “I can definitely vouch that this product is very close to mimicking the flavor and texture of chicken.”
As executive chef of BAIA, the popular and entirely plant-based comfort food Italian eatery and destination venue, Yap has long-excelled at producing food of the kind that results in a deluge of five-star reviews and breathless recommendations from vegans and non-vegans alike.
Yet, at the heart of this particularly tasty parmesana is something else entirely—TiNDLE, a new breed of plant-based chicken that offers all the texture, juiciness, and versatility someone of Yap’s considerable skills demands, with a critical new element of mouthwatering flavor unheard of in the plant-based food scene to date.
Exclusive to alternative protein startup Next Gen Foods, the flavorsome secret behind this new product has unlocked record-breaking funding success, satisfying more palates than ever before as TiNDLE launches across the US to the excitement of chefs across the land.
“Being at this restaurant has widened my range of possibilities in cooking with vegetables and plant-based products,” Yap continues, “and TiNDLE opens up a large window for chefs—vegan or not—to play with and create new recipes in their kitchens. I was very impressed with TiNDLE!”
Leaving meat behind to create a better tomorrow
Made from plants using a mere fraction of the land, water, and energy poured into the production of meat from birds, the breakout first brand of Next Gen Foods is the brainchild of Andre Menezes and Timo Recker.
The duo and their team specialize in creating innovative and sustainable plant-based food products and technology from their Singapore headquarters. Developing the brands to sell these products and the scaled-up operation that gets them distributed anywhere globally, Next Gen Foods are now rising stars in the booming alternative protein market.
Years earlier, Brazilian-born Menezes found himself deep inside the meat business, working as an engineer at BRF, the largest poultry exporter in the world, then later as general manager of Country Foods, the largest meat distributor in Singapore. And his considerable talents made him a household name in the industry. A passionate learner, Menezes’ deep insight led to a revelation: the whole system was broken, and animals were never meant to be farmed at such a massive scale.
Recker, too, was heavily involved in the meat industry. Working in the family processing company, the serial entrepreneur had a front-row seat at one of the leading businesses of its kind in Germany. Stunned by the inefficiency of animal meat production, he set out to create healthier, more sustainable, less destructive products, founding the plant-based meat company LikeMeat.
When Recker’s work led him and Menezes to cross paths, each discovered in the other a kindred spirit. Repelled by the excesses of the animal meat industry and fuelled by a desire to create a better future for the planet and extraordinary food experiences for everyone, the two teamed up to found Next Gen Foods in 2020.
Seeing the big American players in the plant-based protein game focusing their efforts on replicating the tastes and texture of beef, Menezes and Recker set their sights on success beyond the US, strategically focussing on the most consumed animal in the world: chicken.
Explosive expansion across America
While it is one thing for TiNDLE to be available across the United States, it’s another to have pride of place on the menus of some of the hottest eateries in the country’s leading foodie cities.
In San Francisco, chef-owner Wes Rowe is serving up TiNDLE chicken nuggets at Mission District staple WesBurger’ N’ More, while Adriano Paganini and team are packing out TiNDLE chicken and slaw sandwiches at Wildseed.
In Los Angeles, Chef Lemel Durrah’s roaming comfort food truck Compton Vegan slings TiNDLE Chicken Strips and TiNDLE Chicken Alfredo Pasta. At the same time, acclaimed baker Justine Hernandez makes her special TiNDLE fried chicken sandwich—The Lizbird—at Just What I Kneaded.
In New York, Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwiches and Sticky Nuggets are on the menu at all five of The Grey Dog venues, and executive chef Nino Settepani is serving TiNDLE in Nonna’s meatballs with tomato sauce and basil at his Harlem and Williamsburg locations.
As the march toward US domination continues, leading culinary personalities are swelling the ranks of those already innovating with TiNDLE. One of them, celebrity chef and best-selling author Rocco DiSpirito, not only wowed the crowd with TiNDLE Parmesan Sliders and Lotus Leaf Baos at the 2021 NYC Wine and Food Festival, he went on to join Next Gen Foods as a culinary advisor and consultant.
Unleashing flavor by cracking the chicken code
Chefs like DiSpirito know precisely what they want from the ingredients they bet their business and reputation on. So, for their new product to work and win the hearts of foodies, Menezes and Recker knew their plant-based chicken would have to taste and cook as good as—if not even better than—chicken from animals.
Committed to creating a genuinely mouthwatering meat experience, the team knew from the start that they needed their chicken to be versatile and universal, able to work perfectly in any dish culinary experts could imagine.
Plowing their initial funding into research, they discovered that the secret to what makes chicken so delicious to so many people was not the texture (something they had already cracked via a breakthrough in the recreation of chicken fibers); it was the unique composition of chicken fat—an ingredient used in cuisines across the world to impart a rich, savory flavor.
Devoted to capturing the essence of this essential element, the team worked night and day to develop a unique blend of plant-based fats and ingredients, delivering a top-secret new component exclusive to Next Gen Foods that matched the aroma, savory qualities, and cookability of chicken fat.
Combining this ingredient—codenamed Lipi—with nine simple ingredients free from the hormones, antibiotics, and cholesterol associated with animal meat, TiNDLE chicken was born.
Believing that by changing what people consume, they could positively impact the future of the planet, the team found that switching to TiNDLE plant-based chicken would use 82 percent less water and 74 percent less land, and produce 88 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the animal-based alternative. Naming the product as a neat homage to pioneering Irish physicist John Tyndall, who proved the connection between atmospheric CO2 and the greenhouse effect, the stage was set for TiNDLE to take off.
Record-breaking funding fueling development
TiNDLE launched to rapid success. As the product gained a reputation and spread fast to various culinary epicenters across the world, Menezes and Recker turned their attention to the United States.
“The US has long been a target market for us,” says Menezes. “Thanks to our lineup of fantastic investors who have participated in this funding round, this is only the beginning of our journey in delivering delicious and sustainable foods to reverse our climate crisis.”
Those investors are the heart of an astonishing $100 million Series A funding round. For this level of funding, investors are looking not only for great ideas coupled with a killer strategy that will turn those great ideas into a successful business.
Testament to how good Next Gen Foods’ products and plans are, this funding is the largest to date for a plant-based meat company; a record-breaking investment that is not only already fueling the distribution of TiNDLE across all 50 states, it’s powering the research and development of even more sustainable foods from the company.
With total funding for Next Gen Foods soaring past $130 million, the company is opening a new research hub in Singapore in late 2022, a state of the art facility that will be a launchpad for the development and trial of new plant-based and sustainable technologies, powered by an expanded team of protein scientists and food technologists.
“Within a year, we’ve gone from launch to more than 200 restaurants on three continents,” says Next Gen Foods chief financial officer Rohit Bhattacharya. “We will continue this relentless momentum in 2022 thanks to strong demand from chefs, distributors and consumers, who love TiNDLE for its great taste and tiny environmental footprint.”
Next Gen Foods’ flagship product TiNDLE has gone from being served in a handful of Singapore-based restaurants to being available in over 200 restaurants across the United States, Asia, the Middle East, and Amsterdam in less than a year. Earning the acclaim of chefs and consumers everywhere, Menezes and Recker are just getting started.
Beyond the limitations of animal farming
Celebrating their United States debut, TiNDLE teamed up with chef Chad Rosenthal and NYC’s neighborhood favorite, The Grey Dog, to serve samples of their new signature TiNDLE recipes for New York City residents from the TiNDLE food truck, rolling through the US for the first time.
Seeing his early dream of bringing people together for a mind-blowing taste experience that also benefits the planet being made real on the streets of New York City, as the aroma of sizzling TiNDLE hangs in the air, Menezes is more committed than ever to driving the industry forward, fulfilling the vision he and Recker dreamed of when their eyes were opened, and they left the meat industry behind.
“Accelerating the transition to a more sustainable food system will require the ability to not only have commercially scalable products for our consumers, but also be on the cutting edge in terms of food innovation and discovering ways to go beyond the limitations of animal farming,” he says.
“Our mission is to create plant-based food products that are more delicious than products coming from animal farming to help establish a more sustainable planet for future generations.”