Big. Bold. Beautiful. Saucy.
I could easily be describing your dream girl. Or I could be lauding the incredible flavor profile of my new favorite bolognese sauces. One Hop Kitchen has created the world’s first best, and only insect based bolognese sauce using crickets and mealworms.
As they tout on their website, their sauces have big bolognese flavor with a tiny environmental footprint. Replacing beef with insect protein makes a huge difference. One jar of One Hop Kitchen’s bolognese saves 1900 L of water compared to beef (that’s 18 bathtubs). Livestock rearing is responsible for 18% of green house gas emissions – anything we can do to lower our reliance on livestock is a step in the right direction. Ok we know that eating insects is good for our health, and that of the environment, but what makes One Hop Kitchen so special?
We’re still in the early stages of public awareness and acceptance of insect protein. The majority of the Western population would turn up their noses at the thought of diving into an insect dish. One Hop Kitchen, however, combines food science with brilliant presentation to make it easier for an insect-newbie to try their first bug-based snack. By putting crickets and mealworms into a more palatable form – bolognese sauce – One Hop Kitchen is leading the way in encouraging positive, public acceptance of insects as ingredients. I love that they also proudly display their special ingredients front and center on their labels, which read, “Cricket Bolognese” and “Mealworm Bolognese.”
I met the brother geniuses (Eli and Lee Cadesky) behind One Hop Kitchen at Eat Insects Detroit last weekend and had the opportunity to taste test the product for myself. I’m not exaggerating when I say that their sauce was the best bolognese I’ve had in recent memory. Honestly I’d be ok taking a spoon to that jar and just eating the sauce straight!
One Hop Kitchen is launching to the public soon and has their Indiegogo Campaign up and running! Eli Cadesky was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions for me about One Hop Kitchen’s incredible journey with edible insects so far:
How did you first get interested in edible insects?
Lee and I got interested in this space shortly after the UN report from 2013, it was pretty darn eye opening. In August 2014, Lee called me up and told me he had invented our first proto-type, textured cricket protein, similar to tofu but made from crickets instead of soy. From there we founded our first company, C-fu FOODS Inc which uses patent pending food science to extract insect protein into versatile food ingredients. While working with brands as a B2B ingredient supplier, many consumers wanted to try our products but the challenge was distribution (that and our ingredients are so new, not many people know how to work with them). We needed a way to reach consumers, we know if they could try our products they’d be amazed, we could open their minds and mouths to new worlds of sustainable foods and flavours. Enter One Hop Kitchen.
Did you always know you wanted to get into the food industry? What was your childhood dream job?
When Lee and I both returned to school for our respective Masters programs we knew the goal was food, it made sense, Lee was pursuing a Masters of Food Science at Cornell University, but food is so vast and a very challenging space to enter. Before C-fu FOODS and One Hop Kitchen we explored several food sectors but we couldn’t find a space that was congruent with our moral beliefs and provided an opportunity to make meaningful disruption. My childhood dream has always been entrepreneurship and I’ve been lucky to have parents, family and friends to support and push me. In third grade I almost got expelled for selling Pogs (remember those), my mom went to bats for me against the principal and the principal came back and apologized, that night my dad came home with a briefcase that held pogs, “a businessman carries a briefcase” he said.
You work on your businesses with your brother. Would you recommend this set up to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
100%. Aside from the two of us having diverse and complementary skills, more importantly you need to trust your business partners. That said it’s important to remember, family first. Lee and I have rules in place that make sure family comes first. Like any business partners and siblings we’ve argued and raised our voices at each other, but at the end of day, we’re brothers.
How did your parents react when you told them that you were going to cook bugs for a living?
At first, they weren’t too pleased, Lee was interviewing with Pepsi and I was working in a small private equity firm, our parents were pretty happy with the prospects that future held. But Lee and I were drawn to the opportunity to explore a newly created space. We were both passionate and so our parents challenged us to convince them, it wasn’t easy, they’re damn smart, with each answer came new questions. It took about 8 month of weekly meetings but they came around. Our parents are some of our most ardent supporters, they’ve come to our every show of ours and most importantly been a source of strength when things were hardest. I remember the door man at our second show trying to deny our mother entry because it was sold out and she didn’t have a ticket… 220lb 6’2” bouncer – 0, Mom -1.
Why did you choose bolognese sauce?
We wanted a product that directly displaced beef, this way we could directly quantify its environmental impact. We eat 3 times a day, that’s 3 choices every day to expand your horizons and affect meaningful change. C-fu FOODS Inc (our B2B ingredient company who supplies One Hop Kitchen with the insect protein for the sauces) made great ingredients but faced a distribution challenge, the product had to be refrigerated. We also knew our product had to be packaged in a transparent container, it’s integral for building consumer trust, besides it showed off our value add and we had nothing to hide. So we perused the supermarket looking at every meat product that was ambient temperature stable and available in a glass jar. Being a start-up we were also limited by production assets. Bolognese was the perfect product, we had all the assets in the commercial kitchen where we already produced C-fu FOODS ingredients. Additionally, it could be made shelf stable without the use of preservatives through nothing more than good processing methods. So Lee took an additional course and learnt how to use the assets, we leveraged Lee’s connections from Cornell University to assist in the process development and review. One Hop Kitchen’s jars of Bolognese sauces are registered with the FDA as acidified and feature SID#, it’s a nerdy thing to be proud of, but eh, so it goes.
What’s your favorite dish to prepare with insects?
Lee and I are split here. My favourite is Lasagna using One Hop Kitchen’s Bolognese, I have a soft spot for Lasagna, its really the perfect dish it has it all, especially when you sub the boring beef for something sustainable and more delicious. Lee’s favourite dish is probably Ice cream or pates and I think its because it often wows the pants off people. Cricket Ice cream…you probably never thought that was possible. One thing we also find really exciting is the possibilities. If you flip that switch and open your mind and mouth to the category, well there is a world of flavour to explore. Life is too short to only 5 or so land animals, what if that number because 2000 each with their own unique flavours and textures, if you love food, that is something to get excited about.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when first getting started?
Great question, I think it was overcoming what we now term, Bolognaysayers. In 2014 there was not a lot of media attention, we had find strength every day to hold our heads up and keep going. I still remember having to always explain why insects, the feed conversation ratios, GHG emissions from animal agriculture, economic arguments for rising meat prices etc… And then it changed, thanks to journalists who covered the stories. Now we explain to people why OUR insects, they already know why insects and that is inspiring.
In the edible insect industry, there’s a lot of talk about how best to bring bugs to the market. Some advocate for hiding insects in food, while others tout the importance of normalizing the whole insect and educating the public about new ways to think about bugs. What do you feel the best strategy is to bring insects to the masses?
Tough question Aly! Personally I think it’s natural to abstract ourselves from our food. Most of the food we eat has been augmented from its original state to land on your plate, part of that is function – it just makes. Take a milk for example, you ever seen it being made? It’s not a sexy product, but you don’t think about that when you have your morning coffee.
Can you tell me a bit about your Indiegogo campaign? What’s next for One Hope Kitchen?
We soft launched One Hop Kitchen sauces at the Toronto Green Living Show and several other shows in April and May and had an incredible response, just line ups for days to try and buy our sauces. We knew we were on to something, so we’ve taken to IndieGogo to expand our range and impact. One Hop Kitchen is live on Indiegogo right now: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/one-hop-kitchen
We will be hosting experiential events in Los Angeles, San Diego, NYC, Toronto and are looking for a fourth city for the final week of the campaign, this is food, new food and food should be tasted and enjoyed. So Hop on Board grab a couple jars, they make delicious dinners, great conversation starters and have the potential affect real meaningful environmental change. One jar of our sauce saves up to 1900L of water compared to a Beef based sauce, and that is something to get excited about.
Ok, not only does this duo have an incredible company with a beautiful mission, but they’re pretty awesome guys as well. Make sure to support their campaign and check out their site at: http://onehopkitchen.com/