Rasmus Munk launches innovation centre Spora with aim to revolutionise food industry – Food and Wine Gazette

Rasmus Munk launches innovation centre Spora with aim to revolutionise food industry - Food and Wine Gazette

COPENHAGEN: After establishing acclaimed restaurant Alchemist and putting it at the forefront of gastronomical innovation, Rasmus Munch has unveiled Spora. The investment in this research lab together with bioscience pioneers Claus Christiansen and Bente Christiansen will focus on changing the world through gastronomy. With a seed investment of EUR 1.5 million, Spora is the natural evolution of Alchemist. “By allowing the search for deliciousness to lead technology, instead of the other way around, we can play a pivotal role in developing nutritious, and sustainable products that people want to eat again and again – and that will drive global change. I firmly believe that we can harness the vibrancy and inventiveness of the restaurant and bring it out to the public,” said Rasmus Munk. The chef is known for creating dishes that are otherwise considered inedible or waste from farmed butterflies, jellyfish, lamb’s brains, and pig’s windpipes. The restaurant is currently ranked no 5 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Restaurant Alchemist opened in 2019, merging gastronomy, art, science, storytelling, and activism into an all-encompassing multisensory experience. The restaurant has already established research collaborations with several leading universities as well as commercial partners by bringing gastronomic and scientific know-how, and above all creativity, to the development of new foods and technologies. “We are scientists, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople and recognize the same drivers behind this project. We believe strongly in the business model, and that Rasmus Munk is the right person to move it forward. We hope that our experience in research and business can contribute to the project’s success” said Claus and Bente Christiansen. The Spora team will be truly multidisciplinary, including industry leaders from the fields of gastronomy, science, design, art, engineering, and business. While Spora will operate independently from Alchemist, the restaurant remains a committed gastronomic partner, holding an ownership stake in the company. “I am delighted to deepen my collaboration with Rasmus in innovating and revolutionizing the food industry in collaboration with significant industry players and science partners. To invent new sources of nutrition and create new ways to feed the world is of utmost urgency – and I am excited to see where we can go with Spora,” said Lars Seier Christensen, majority owner of Alchemist. The center will be located at Refshaleøen in Copenhagen within a state-of-the-art facility spanning 1,000 square meters, featuring purpose-built research kitchens, cutting-edge microbiology labs, and a fully equipped 3D design and sound studio. Spora will initially focus on two main areas: upcycling side-streams from the food industry and developing delicious and diverse protein sources. Ongoing projects include: Research into the culinary potential of fermentation with fungi in collaboration with UC Berkeley. Development of delicious and protein-rich foods from rapeseed press cake in collaboration with KU, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (Copenhagen University). Developing new meat and seafood alternatives utilizing filamentous fungi and seaweed in a project with DTU BioSustain. Culinary development partner for San Francisco-based company Wildtype, a leading pioneer within the production of cultivated seafood. Spora’s CEO, Mette Johnsen, has 14 years of experience in leading positions at the global bio-solutions company, Novozymes. “When Rasmus presented the concept of Spora to me two years ago, it was clear to me that he was filling a void in the industry. The restaurant’s ability to swiftly transform ideas into innovative products is unique, and I am convinced that this culinary-lead approach to innovation can accelerate the journey toward a more sustainable food system. We envision dynamic collaborations with industry partners to drive this transformation,” said Mette Johnsen. For the restaurant, the proximity of a state-of-the-art research center will be a game changer. “The Spora venture will allow us to pursue our wildest dreams within scientific and gastronomic research – from designing soundscapes for the restaurant to using ultrasound to extract flavors. We will investigate the potential of 3D-printing food, analyze sensory experiences, and explore the impact of the latest gastro-technology. During the last couple of years, we have been working intensely on developing the vision and business plan for Spora, and I can’t wait to start using my craft and ambition to make a broader impact in the world,” said Rasmus Munk.