April 17, 2024

CPS

Travel Adventure

How Algae Cooking Club Redefines The Future Of Food With Its Algae Cooking Oil

5 min read

Amidst the looming specter of climate change, which jeopardizes crop yields and strains precious resources, one unlikely hero emerges from algae. Surprisingly abundant and remarkably versatile, algae have found a new purpose as an exceptional cooking oil. A new company, Algae Cooking Club harnesses this abundant resource to produce a neutral cooking oil that checks all the boxes: making food tastier, being of the highest quality, and being better for the planet.

I caught up with Kas Saidi, the visionary behind Algae Cooking Club, to talk about the labyrinthine journey that led him to the forefront of culinary innovation and redefining the future of food – and partnering with superstar chef Daniel Humm from Eleven Madison Park.

Kas grew up inspired by his immigrant father, a serial entrepreneur whose tenacity and resilience left an indelible mark. However, Saidi’s path diverged from the traditional trajectory of familial entrepreneurship. “I wasn’t math-inclined like him or my sister. I didn’t excel in school. I wasn’t sure I’d ever follow in his footsteps. I found my way into the creative agency world. I was introduced to some of the brightest people who saw the world in a different frequency, and I shared a small sliver of their POV. I thought I wanted to graduate to a CMO somewhere impressive,” Saidi recalled, reflecting on his early career. “Around thirty, I had the realization, that that’s not at all what I wanted to do. I was lost and truthfully depressed.”

Saidi found himself drawn to projects that pushed boundaries and challenged conventional thinking. Collaborating with his sister on the launch of her own company, Táche Pistachio Milk, sparked his curiosity for disruptive ventures. Soon, he found himself immersed in projects with industry giants like Impossible Foods and Teremana Tequila, exploring the intersection of creativity, design, and consumer products.

Yet, it was Saidi’s tenure at Squared Circles, a venture studio with a mission to revolutionize everyday consumer products that are better for your health and the planet that catalyzed his entrepreneurial journey. “While at Squared Circles we identified the opportunity, and developed the concept, brand, and product, before I jumped at the opportunity to go full-time on this new business as CEO and Co-Founder: a natural progression that felt impossible to ignore,” Said reflected.

Algae Cooking Club, Saidi explained, is more than just a brand, “Algae Cooking Club is a brand that, yes, sells algae-based culinary products starting with a chef-grade cooking oil – but equally, it’s a beacon for food curiosity.” The genesis of Algae Cooking Club, according to Saidi, was rooted in a convergence of insights and opportunities. “We were obsessed with the potential of algae as a way to source high-quality ingredients. We saw the rise in people demanding healthier cooking oils, all while food curiosity reached new heights (just see tinned fish or mushroom everything today). We found an incredible supplier of the oil and over two years built what you now see.”

When asked about the unique properties of algae oil, Saidi’s enthusiasm is palpable. “Algae is the mother of all plants and it’s the origin of oil in nature. It takes just a few days to produce the oil, with a fraction of the resources and emissions needed. Once you know this, it’s a bit odd to think we wait entire harvests to squeeze all of these other plants to try and get a sliver of oil out of them. Also, by going straight to the source, we get a better composition of Omega-9 good fats – even more than olive and avocado oil. This purity of fats gives it a supremely high smoke point and a super low composition of Omega-6 linoleic fats.”

Drawing on his personal experience as an amateur chef, Saidi described the transformative impact of cooking with algae oil. “The flavors are more vibrant, the textures more nuanced,” he says. “It elevates every dish, from simple salads to gourmet entrees.”

The crowning endorsement came from none other than three Michelin-star chef Daniel Humm, who was captivated by the oil’s culinary prowess. “We got the oil over to Daniel, who also was pleasantly surprised at just how well this oil performs in the kitchen. So much so that he came on as our Club Culinary Officer,” Saidi acknowledged.

From a sustainability perspective, Saidi emphasized algae’s minimal carbon footprint and resilience in the face of environmental challenges plaguing traditional food systems, “We need new ways to source high-quality ingredients that ask less of the planet. Algae is the mother of all plants, the originator of oil in nature.” It takes just three days to ferment algae to get to the end product. The carbon footprint is roughly half of that of Avocado, Canola, and Olive oil. This is a microalgae, so it’s not harvested from marine environments like macroalgae such as Kelp or Seaweed.

“When you look at the collapse of major food systems, algae is largely safeguarded against them. Olive oil prices have doubled in the last twelve months because of record droughts in Europe. This unfortunately doesn’t have a short-term solution. Algae offers an exciting food system alternative,” he added.

The partnership with Daniel Humm unfolded serendipitously. “Daniel has been a friend for a few years, and as one of the most recognized chefs in the world and a pioneer of the plant-based movement, he was the perfect person to validate our assumptions about the oil, and so we sent him some product to try out. His feedback was ecstatic – this was the fat he had been looking for – something more neutral, versatile, healthier, and a perfect fit for their ethos,” Saidie declared. With the meticulous rigor characteristic of Eleven Madison Park’s kitchen, Daniel and his team subjected the algae oil to a battery of tests, and they were equally impressed with how it performed in a variety of applications.

Looking ahead, Saidi envisions expanding their product line and partnering with more culinary pioneers to champion algae as a versatile and sustainable ingredient. With plans to develop a range of algae-based oils in collaboration with Daniel Humm’s team, Algae Cooking Club aims to inspire culinary curiosity and redefine the future of food.

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