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Chris Bryson

New School Foods exists to bring no-compromise, whole-cut, plant-based meat and seafood alternatives to market that emulate the same texture, taste, nutritional benefits, and cooking experience of conventional seafood with the vision of creating a kinder, sustainable food system.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m passionate about creating a kinder and more sustainable food system.

After I sold my first company, Unata, to Instacart, I turned my focus to startups geared toward building a more sustainable food system through alternative proteins. I started investing through the Glass Wall Syndicate in numerous plant-based, fermentation, and cultivated companies. After seeing a distressing lack of innovation in the alternative protein space, I realized it was time to go back to basics (R&D) and invest money in academic research rather than venture investing. I sponsored six different post-doctoral researchers at various universities, one of which struck gold. That’s when I decided to commercialize the project and create New School Foods.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

There’s so much I’ve learned over the last couple of years – it’s difficult to nail down a specific piece of advice I’d give myself. From my perspective, each lesson learned was critical to getting New School Foods where it is today in terms of finding the right technique to add new tools to the alternative protein toolkit for quality products for everyone to enjoy and, in turn, create a more sustainable environment.

What problem does your business solve?

The meat alternative industry plays a substantial role in the creation of a more sustainable food system and, ultimately, helps us meet critical climate goals. But the industry is built on shortcuts, and the market is flooded with plant-based products that are not true meat alternatives.

The shortcut technology is called High Moisture Extrusion. Because the food processing industry has relied on extrusion for so long, across so many products, that infrastructure advantage leads most companies to default to extrusion as a way to achieve scale. But while extrusion achieves scale, it hurts demand – consumers ultimately reject extrusion because it does not replicate the experience of cooking or eating meat.

Investing in R&D to create new tools and technologies is important to create quality products. Instead, the focus remains on getting products to consumers and generating revenue as quickly as possible. Short-term thinking floods the market with mediocre extruded meat alternatives and damages long-term consumer demand.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Our goal is to create no-compromise products that look, cook, taste, and flake just like wild salmon and meat, with zero compromises on texture and flavour.

67 per cent of Americans would eat more plant-based food if it had a better taste and texture. The products that exist today taste close to real meat, but it’s only one part of the equation. We’re equally as focused on recreating texture and mouthfeel to deliver the full effect so it’s easier for non-vegans to eat more sustainably and embrace alternative meats for a more meaningful impact on the planet.

What is your magic sauce?

Unlike technologies such as extrusion that use heat to create texture, New School Foods’ entire process is cold-based, so the ingredients remain uncooked, and proteins are not denatured. This results in a ready-to-cook product that is raw and has the appearance of raw meat. Once the product is cooked in a kitchen, the proteins denature just like animal meat proteins, allowing the product to transition from raw to cooked and provide a visual transformation.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Our vision is a world where meat alternatives are superior to conventional meat. Ideally, it would be equivalent sensorially – while being less expensive – and better for you and the planet. In the next five years, we want to bring our product to a global audience, achieving scale that allows us to match on taste and price.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

To create a purpose-driven product, you need people on your team that can solve the remaining challenges standing in the way of achieving your goals. For New School Foods, that meant finding food scientists and engineers who have the expertise required to recreate the sensory experience we get from cooking and eating conventional meat and fish.

Finding the right talent in Canada has been especially challenging as a young company because of the lack of established alternative protein companies in the region. To draw in the right candidates, we needed to focus our efforts on finding creative ways to grab their attention and developing an attractive environment they would want to work in.

The first step was running ad campaigns on LinkedIn and Facebook targeted to employees of our competitors that highlighted our new, unique technology and guided them to a microsite designed to entice them to apply.

As we identified top candidates, we flew them out to Toronto so they could see our facility. It’s worth noting that Toronto is one of the world’s most desirable cities to live in, and we spent months finding the right location: a 30k square foot facility in the heart of downtown that’s zoned for us to support a large R&D lab, a pilot assembly line, and a beautiful office space. Touring the facility helped us seal the deal – they were able to see firsthand how our technology is poised to revolutionize the meat alternative industry and the way we eat.

Since then, we hired a senior scientist from Beyond Meat and a director of flavour and sensory experience from outside Toronto. We’re still expanding our team – our candidate pipeline is quite strong and includes talent from major industry players, including Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and others.

How can people get involved?

Visit our website at or reach out to [email protected] to hear more.