A brilliant and delicious meat substitute won a Wageningen team of seven students the Eco Trophelia ecological food innovation prize in Paris this week. The team came up trumps by combining the traditional preparation method of Eastern tempeh with European ingredients, says team leader Jovian Bunawan.
'A meat substitute based on a combination of fermented oats and lupine beans. These two ingredients together provide a combination of essential amino acids similar to that found in meat. We also try our best to cater to the tastes of the consumer. So we coat the product with a thin layer of crumbs and freeze it. Deep fried, it becomes a nice crispy snack.'
There are quite a number of other 'vegan burgers'; what's so new about yours?
'Mainly because we have given much thought to its production. All the ingredients are from Europe itself, while the production process is kept very simple. We even ensured that production waste during the production can be converted into energy, and that the packaging can be recycled. It is therefore eco-friendly across the board: from raw materials to production to packaging.'
You study in Wageningen, but you come from Indonesia. Is this reflected in the product?
'Yes, the idea of fermenting lupine beans is based on traditional Indonesian tempeh. But with European ingredients and presented in a form which is attractive for Western consumers. But our nationality is less important than the fact that we have worked together very well as a team and that we represent different disciplines: food science, nutrition, food safety, processing and innovation management. As such, we can attend to all the aspects of product development.'
This is a prestigious award with a prize money of eight thousand euros. Are you happy?
'Honestly, we did not expect to come so far. We had to do this project in addition to our studies, and that was quite a heavy workload. But we are very pleased with it. For Wageningen University, too. We had a lot of support from all the staff members and it feels good to be able to come back with a prize like this.'