SAN FRANCISCO — Render, a Berkeley, Calif.-based start-up, has been collaborating with acclaimed chefs across the country to transform byproducts into consumer packaged goods. Co-founder and chief executive officer Dana Peck called the concept “chef to shelf.”
“We wanted to take that inspiration, that creativity happening in restaurants, really collaborate with those chefs, with our internal team, and bring to market something entirely new so that people can have a little bit of that restaurant experience in their homes,” Ms. Peck told Food Business News.
Restaurant chefs often reduce food waste by creating new uses for leftover ingredients. At the Winter Fancy Food Show, held Jan. 13-15 in San Francisco, Render is debuting a pair of beverage brands made with the byproducts from pickle and cheese production. Bryner, a savory vegetable drink, includes the pickle brine from a local specialty pickle company, which adds flavor and body. It was developed in collaboration with San Francisco-based award-winning chef Nicolaus Balla. Flavors include beet horseradish, smoky tomato chipotle and carrot aji pepper.
Weyla, a sparkling fruity beverage created in partnership with Massachusetts-based award-winning author and chef Cortney Burns, contains whey as a byproduct from a local creamery. The whey is blended with fruit, herbs and botanicals to produce an aromatic beverage in three varieties: blueberry juniper orange, strawberry fennel tarragon and cranberry ginger hibiscus.
“Our focus is not to make all upcycled products, but it’s just the organic and natural instinct we all have as chefs to create products that didn't exist before,” Ms. Peck said. “With the beverages, we’re fortunate to have found great partners who were discarding things like whey and pickle brine from cheese and pickle production, and we saw those ingredients as our chefs did in their restaurants as really extremely flavorful byproducts that we want to use because they are delicious, because they make great food, as well as being sustainable.”
Render’s first product to market was State Bird Crunch, a savory snack featuring puffed quinoa, spices and seeds, which was developed with the chefs of State Bird Provisions restaurant in San Francisco. Flavors include sea salt, almond rosemary and furikake.
“That was inspired by a quinoa dish they do in the restaurant,” Ms. Peck said. “They make this beautiful quinoa dish and would have leftover quinoa at the end of the night. Like any great chef, they don’t want to throw out an incredible product, so they found another use for it. They would fry and crisp it and mix it with different nuts and seeds and seasonings, then use that as a sprinkling and topping on all kinds of dishes in the restaurant.
“It’s super delicious — they were snacking on it themselves and thought that would be a great opportunity to take that concept and transform it a bit into a snack people could enjoy in their homes.”
Render was launched in October 2017 by the founders of Pilot Research and Development, a food innovation and development company based in Healdsburg, Calif. Pilot R.&D. advises food companies and restaurants on menu and product development.
“We all come from a variety of different backgrounds with different expertise, but our shared common thread is we all come from a fine dining culinary background,” Ms. Peck said of her partners, Ali Bouzari and Dan Felder.
Nothing is off the table in product development for Render, but future launches must capture the integrity and authenticity of a chef’s contribution. That is the most critical requirement, Ms. Peck said.
“Our brand isn’t about simply sticking someone’s photograph on a jar of tomato sauce,” Ms. Peck said. “We really want to sit down together and come up with creative ideas that we can all bring our various expertise to bear on.”