Fico, a Singapore-based restaurant, is making food history by embarking on a culinary revolution by creating the world’s first Solein Chocolate Gelato, a dessert made with ingredients derived out of thin air. Solein is the world’s most sustainable protein produced by Finnish food tech company Solar Foods.
Solar Foods received regulatory approval to sell Solein, a novel microbial protein, in Singapore in September 2022. Its first tastes were served to the public in an invite-only tasting at Fico, a casual Italian seaside restaurant in Singapore on the 25th of May 2023. Fico is the latest concept from The Lo & Behold Group and the restaurant has now crafted a brand new gelato recipe, the Solein Chocolate Gelato, using the novel ingredient, which will be available at Fico from the 15th of June.
This is the first time in history that a food produced without any connection to photosynthesis and agriculture has been made available to the general public. The unique gelato replaces dairy with Solein, the world’s most sustainable protein, and removes the animal from the equation. This offers a glimpse of a future where tastes and textures are familiar, but where food arrives on our plates in an entirely new way.
The future can taste like anything
To commemorate the highly anticipated release of Solein, the visionary team led by Oliver Truesdale-Jutras, Director of sustainability consultancy Re:Growth, and Fico’s Chef-partner Mirko Febbrile, crafted a Solein-inspired tasting menu that showcased the flavours of Singapore in an exclusive event held at Fico.
Inspired by the properties of Solein, with its mild aroma and notes of umami that hint at nuttiness and creaminess, Chef Mirko explored pairing Solein with an indulgent chocolate flavour to elevate the familiar tastes.
“It is a remarkable opportunity to be the first chef team to introduce a one-of-a-kind ice cream to the world. It combines the familiar delicious taste we all love with a unique ingredient produced without relying on traditional agriculture. Exploring Solein’s versatility has been an incredible journey; we’ve experimented with its potential, creating dishes ranging from miso soups, pasta, sauces, and desserts. Replacing dairy with Solein in this chocolate gelato, we were able to craft a vegan ice cream without compromising on its creaminess” describes Chef Mirko.
“As a chef, I believe strongly in making food sustainable and responsible. Solein opens up opportunities for us to reimagine the food chain in a way that benefits our planet, without compromising the dishes and flavours we love.”
The world’s first Solein-powered ice cream will be launched utilising Fico’s Pedal for Gelato initiative as its launching pad. The initiative encourages better living with play and exercise and Fico rewards participants who have cycled more than 15km in that day with a complimentary scoop of gelato to exemplify this.
Solein is the ”Intel inside” – blending easily into foods supports smooth entry to market
Solein Chocolate Gelato is also an example of the versatility and functionality of the novel ingredient: Solein blends into familiar foods and is ideal for all kinds of recipes, sweet or savoury. It can give foods a complementary colour from the carotenoids which are naturally present in the ingredient, but in the new gelato the colour comes from the chocolate so there’s not even a visual clue that Solein is there. This shows how eating Solein is just like eating any of the foods you already know and love, only more sustainable.
“If you didn’t know, you could not guess this gelato includes an entirely new, unique, and nutritious ingredient just by tasting it. It looks, feels and tastes just like any other Italian gelato – and that is exactly the idea. Solein is the ‘Intel inside’ of the food industry”, explains Solar Foods CCO Shilei Zhang.
“Solein Chocolate Gelato also fits a perfect fit for this market. Ice cream is highly popular in Singapore: it’s common to see people queuing at ice cream kiosks for a cool treat on a hot Singapore evening. Chocolate is also one of the most popular flavours in ice cream across the world, so it is easy to adapt to local tastes.”
Fico’s new gelato is the first of what Solar Foods expects to be a significant number of Solein-based foods entering the market in coming years. On the 30th of May, Solar Foods and Japanese food company Ajinomoto announced a strategic alliance. This is Solar Foods’ first partnership with a global food brand and includes an agreement to develop products using Solein and conduct a marketability study, set to begin in Q1 2024. Solar Foods’ new facility, Factory 01, is under construction in Finland. It is set to be completed and begin production in 2024. Factory 01 will bring the company’s Solein production to commercial scale for the first time.