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Why This Singapore Restaurant Just Made Foodservice History

A guest enjoys GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken at 1880.

Eat Just Inc. said it made history last weekend when its cultured meat was the first ever cultured meat to be sold and served at a restaurant.

The San Francisco-based company, which says it applies cutting-edge science and technology to create healthier and more sustainable foods, partnered with Singapore restaurant, 1880, on what it called “a series of highly anticipated dinners” for almost 50 people on Dec. 19. The restaurant debut of GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken — real meat created directly from animal cells for human consumption — followed Singapore’s first-in-the-world regulatory approval for the product in November.

The four-course launch dinners at 1880 will continue through the end of the year and are sold out. The restaurant is planning to feature a cultured chicken dish on its menu in 2021 for the price of a premium conventional chicken dish.

According to Eat Just, the sale of GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken at 1880 has sparked global conversations among thought leaders and the media about whether other countries will adopt similar regulatory frameworks to allow for the sale of cultured meat and how soon that could happen.

Eat Just said the weekend’s event was the culmination of a nearly 90-year vision first articulated by British statesman Winston Churchill and pursued for decades by Dutch researcher and entrepreneur Willem van Eelen. In a 1931 essay, Churchill imagined a world where “we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.” Van Eelen, widely known as the “godfather of cultured meat,” made it his life’s mission to realize the promise of safe, sustainable meat production from cells instead of live animals, according to Eat Just.

Following van Eelen’s passing, Eat Just acquired his patents, and his daughter Ira became a friend and adviser to the company.

“My father dedicated his life to the idea that human ingenuity could take this concept from the realm of science fiction to real food that nourishes our bodies,” Ira van Eelen said. “This launch and future developments in the field will forever impact our relationship with the food we eat and the planet we inhabit. This marks the beginning of us doing things better than we have done for thousands of years.”

Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, credited Willem van Eelen and others for his company’s breakthrough.

“This historic accomplishment is not the result of a single company’s actions — far from it. It’s the result of the imagination and tenacity of Willem van Eelen as well as the many scientists, educators and entrepreneurs in the field who believed in the power of this idea before most of the folks at my company were even born, including me,” Tetrick said. “Today, we’re thankful for them and will continue to carry on their important work.”

In conjunction with GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken’s restaurant debut, Eat Just launched goodmeat.co, a new digital platform focused on educating consumers about the importance of this method of meat production. Through this website, the company aims to highlight the need for safer, more efficient and less environmentally harmful ways of producing meat as consumption is projected to increase over 70% by 2050, according to the company.