Souvla in San Francisco. (Photo: Courtesy of Souvla)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – With many people increasingly interested in a plant-based diet, food technology companies have been developing non-meat alternatives for beek, chicken and pork, and now Black Sheep Foods has launched the very first plant-based lamb to be added to the menu at the Greek fast casual chain Souvla, San Francisco Eater reported.
“Black Sheep Foods, a two-year old company that says it is the first to bring plant-based, `heritage breed’ lamb to market,” SF Eater reported, adding that “beginning Wednesday, October 20, Souvla will offer Black Sheep’s lamb as an option alongside pork, chicken, roasted white sweet potato, and of course, its popular spit-roasted (real) lamb, to be served on any of its salads or sandwiches.”
“It’s the brand’s first menu addition since opening its Hayes Valley restaurant in 2014, a step Souvla’s founder and CEO Charles Bililies says is `very much a big deal for us,’” SF Eater reported.
“We’re fortunate — so much of this innovation is happening right here, where we’re based,” Greek-American Bililies told SF Eater. “We first were exposed to [the technology] years back with Impossible, and we did some experimenting with it on our end. But since we didn’t have beef on our menu to begin with, we kept looking out for new opportunities that were a better fit. Black Sheep came to us last year with this idea that they had been working on, and with lamb being such a signature part of the Souvla menu and being so synonymous with Greek cuisine, especially here in the States, it seemed like a great fit.”
“While Souvla’s current vegetarian option, the roasted white sweet potato, is what Bililies calls its `sleeper hit,’ the company has seen a growing number of requests for additional plant-based or meat-free options from its `loyal, very vocal fanbase,’ Bililies says,” SF Eater reported.
“We’ve seen such a rise in the general consumer demand and appreciation for alternative meats, we thought the timing was right for us,” Bililies told SF Eater.
“Black Sheep Lamb is inspired by New Zealand’s Tunis breed, co-founders Sunny Kumar and Ismael Montanez say,” SF Eater reported, adding that “Kumar, a tech entrepreneur, and Montanez, a biochemist, say it was a dearth of `lesser-known, bold tasting meats — both plant-based and not’ that led them to the creation, one they say they hope will `democratize heritage breeds and wild game with the added intent of being environmentally conscious,’ given that game meats are often too `scarce or costly’ for consumers.”
“The end result for Souvla is a flavor profile that mirrors `how we cook and marinate our existing lamb,’ Bililies says,” SF Eater reported.
“It’s done in a way where it’s sliced in cubes very similar to how we cut our lamb, texturally it has that game-specific, meaty texture to it, and from an aroma standpoint, it smells just like lamb, which is such a distinct smell,” Bililies told SF Eater. “We’ve put it in front of many people on both of our teams and we’ve gotten to a configuration that we’re both super happy about. And for us, it really needs to be right in order to make such a significant change. And it is.”
“Black Sheep’s lamb — a permanent menu addition at Souvla — will be available exclusively at all four Souvla restaurants in San Francisco or for Bay Area delivery for six weeks following its debut, after that the company will begin rolling out more restaurant partnerships,” SF Eater reported.
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