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Michael Symon debuts meatless burger in Royal Oak

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Celebrity chef Michael Symon, who is known for his meat-centric restaurants, announced Friday that the Impossible Burger – a sustainable, plant-based burger that looks and tastes like meat – will make its Midwest debut at his B Spot Burgers in Royal Oak.

Symon revealed the new patty in Royal Oak alongside Traci Des Jardins, chef and owner of Jardiniere, a James Beard Foundation award-winning restaurant in San Francisco where the Impossible Burger is also on the menu.

Those visiting Michael Symon’s B Spot Burgers in Royal Oak this weekend will be the first in the Midwest to try the Impossible Burger.

Those visiting the Royal Oak restaurant this weekend will be the first to try the Impossible Burger in the Midwest.

“Don’t tell anyone in Cleveland, I’ll get in big trouble,” joked Symon, who is a Cleveland native, but told The Detroit News that “Detroit’s always high in our minds. I love Detroit.”

The Impossible Burger is made of wheat protein, potato protein, leghemoglobin (heme from plants), xanthan, konjac plant and coconut oil for fat. Representatives say it’s not meant to be a “health food,” though. The nutritional content is similar to a beef patty, but it is cholesterol-free. The plant-based burger is produced without hormones, antibiotics or artificial flavors.

It’s one of the first products of its kind that is meant to really look and taste like meat. The raw version has the same color as raw ground beef, and when put together on a bun with all the fixings, it tastes like beef.

“The biggest difference between this burger and a beef burger is the crispiness of it, you have to cook it at a little bit lower temperature,” said Des Jardins. Symon said that at his B Spot restaurants, the Impossible Burger won’t be cooked on the same grill as the beef patties.

Symon, who lives in Cleveland, says he thinks the Midwest’s reaction to the meatless burger will be “different” than on the coasts, but believes people will like it.

Chef Michael Symon talks about the Impossible Burger with chef Traci Des Jardins Friday morning in Royal Oak about the new meatless, cholesterol-free patty that made its debut Friday at the Royal Oak B Spot.

“I know it’s important for me to do right by the environment, and I know it’s important for me to do right by my cholesterol,” said Symon, who in addition to eight B Spot locations throughout the Midwest also owns Roast in downtown Detroit. “I have a bad reputation ... we’re definitely meat-centric. The way that I cook is meat-centric, our restaurants are meat-centric.”

At B Spot, the Impossible Burger will be available on the build-your-own menu, and also as the Thin Lizzy. This sandwich is named after Symon’s wife Liz, a vegetarian, and comes slider-style with grilled onions, mayo, pickles and cheddar cheese. It’s $9.99.

Last week, Impossible Burger opened its first large-scale production plant in Oakland, California, which will eventually be able to produce one million pounds of Impossible Burger “meat” per month.

The company says that compared to conventional ground beef from cows, their product uses 75 percent less water, 87 percent less greenhouse gases and about 95 percent less land.

Impossible Burger is now available at Royal Oak’s B Spot Burgers at 310 S. Main. Monday it will be available at all B Spot locations, including the location at 176 N. Adams in Rochester Hills.

Friday evening, the public will have a chance to sample the Impossible Burger at the Garden Bowl inside the Majestic complex at 4120 Woodward in Detroit from 5-7 p.m.

Fake meat is all the rage. Gourmet burger concept BurgerFi recently announced a partnership with a similar brand. This Labor Day, the fast-casual chain started serving Beyond Burgers, a juicy-but-vegan patty that is also sold in Whole Foods stores. This “burger” has 20 grams of protein and “bleeds” beet juice for a more realistic beef experience.

Twitter: @melodybaetens