The First Kosher Cheeseburger You Say?
Featuring IF Chief Science Officer David Lipman on Impossible Going Kosher
Impossible Foods recently announced that the Impossible Burger is now certified kosher by the Orthodox Union (OU).
We celebrated this milestone with a festive, kosher-inspired lunch at Chef Tal Ronnen’s renowned restaurant, Crossroads Kitchen, in Los Angeles with close friends, members of LA’s Jewish community, and special guest Rabbi Sharon Brous — one of the chief voices in modern religion today and founder of IKAR LA. Apart from being able to offer the first Impossible kosher cheeseburger (and first ever kosher cheeseburger), this was an important step toward reaching our greater goal of becoming increasingly accessible — while meeting the dietary or religious requirements of more and more diners.
From the start, Impossible Foods’ plan has been to become a universal offering, available in all regions around the planet. Our mission extends to all corners of the world: transform the global food system to support the planet and growing human population, and while doing so, create tasty food from plants. Our aim is to make delicious and nutritious plant-based meat, fish, and dairy products — for everyone, everywhere — with a much less damaging impact than products using animal-based technology.
Just last month, we launched the Impossible in Hong Kong — our first location outside of the U.S. — and are continuing to explore additional international markets. Our hope is to meet the prerequisites for any and all dining needs around the world, and the team at Impossible is working hard on our halal certification, with the hopes to announce the good news later this year.
Following our announcement at Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles, we sat down with Chief Science Officer at Impossible Foods, Dr. David Lipman, to hear his thoughts on the importance of becoming certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, what it means to him as a son and grandson of kosher butchers and cattle brokers from Rochester, N.Y. — and of course, his favorite burger.
Impossible Foods: We heard you helped create the recipe for the first Impossible kosher cheeseburger. Tell us about the build and what inspired it.
David Lipman: I like a pretty simple build so you can really taste the Impossible Burger. Two special things though — the pickle and the bun. My mom would take kosher dills and pickle them longer so they really had a punch. And the bun is a kimmelweck roll, essentially a kaiser roll with kosher salt and caraway seeds on top. In Buffalo and other parts of Western New York State, “beef on weck” was a mainstay: roast beef on weck with au jus for dipping. The salt and caraway add something special to a burger.
IF: What are your fondest memories from working at the family market?
DL: The store was really part of the community. Many of the customers were the children of customers and they’d bring their own kids — my dad would always have a slice of bologna for each kid. Tal Ronnen’s mom and her parents were long time customers of the market.
I also liked joking around with the guys who worked there. These folks were proud of their work and their own skills. My dad was a very, very tough boss. But I learned so much from him there. He was always looking for how to do things better and no matter what happened, he had confidence he’d figure out a way to make things work. And when things were really crazy — like before a holiday — he would say: “It could be worse. We could be in the restaurant business”.
IF: What inspired you to pursue a career in science?
DL: I never had a clear plan to be a scientist. But when I was in medical school, to take a break from studying, I’d browse the books in the section near where I sat. And I stumbled on an area of research — evolution — that fascinated me. After my hospital training, I headed to the National Institutes of Health to do research in that field.
IF: Did you think you would end up working in food again?
DL: I did all the cooking in the family when our kids were young and make them exactly what they wanted. They would always say I should open a restaurant — given what my dad said about the restaurant business that would never happen.
What inspired me to come to Impossible Foods was Pat Brown and his idea that Impossible would create such delicious meat from plants that we could totally eliminate the need for animals in the food system. I believe there is no application of technology more important than building a better and more sustainable food system. And saving the planet with deliciousness is an irresistible mission.