Animal proteins – meat, poultry, seafood and eggs – which have always been at the center of the restaurant dining experience have undergone a metamorphosis in recent years, with plant-based substitutes and now cultivated alternatives. laboratory increasingly available and, more importantly, competitive in terms of taste quality and price.

The history of plant-based ground beef substitutes like those made by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods is already well known, and both products have found their way onto restaurant menus.

The two companies also branched out to create plant-based sausage and chicken substitutes; As their operations have grown in size and efficiency, their prices are becoming increasingly competitive with those of natural beef, chicken and pork.

Now a second wave of animal protein substitutes is hitting the market in the form of lab-grown beef, chicken and seafood.

The process by which these protein replacements are created is pure science fiction, with individual “donor” cells from animals grown in bioreactors, processed and refined, and then given a “meat-like” structure by a kind of 3D printing process.

A San Francisco startup, East Just, Inc. created a “farm chicken” and San Diego-based BlueNalu, after successfully creating laboratory-grown food fish, is now building a production facility.

Both products are believed to have the flavor, mouth feel, and cooking characteristics of traditionally sourced chicken or fish.

Of course, the real question is how quickly these lab-grown foods will be widely accepted by the public once their cost is competitive with traditional animal protein.

Will the same concerns and fears about genetically modified (GMO) grains become an obstacle to the favorable reception of laboratory-grown animal proteins, or claims that these new products are “cleaner” and free from environmental contaminants? Will they make them particularly attractive to consumers?

Those who promote these lab-made food products also like to point out that they come from a more sustainable (less negative impact on the environment) and more humane technology than current factory farming practices.

We may all be ready for an exciting new era of dining experiences when “lab-made” begins to replace “farm-fresh” on restaurant menus.

Westfield’s Shortstop Bar and Grill celebrates St. Patrick’s Day from March 15-21 with a special menu, the centerpiece of which is a traditional corned beef dinner that includes carrots, potatoes and whole grain mustard.

Also on their cooking schedule for the duration is a Rueben corned beef sandwich served with fries and a Rueben corned beef flatbread made with sliced ​​corned beef, sauerkraut, thousand island vinaigrette and mozzarella.

Irish nachos will be available for snacking and a whiskey and raisin bread pudding will be presented for dessert.

A family-friendly corned beef dinner wrap, designed for four and incorporating the traditional sides of cabbage, potatoes and carrots, will also be available.

The Short Stop Bar and Grill answers (413) 642-6370.

Among the restaurants in the area that have decided to close for the winter is the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, which was on hiatus from February 15.

The hostel traditionally closes in March to take vacations and do major maintenance work, but the March closure of this year has been brought forward.

No specific reopening date has been set, but it is likely that the Salem Cross Inn will come back online for Easter Sunday, April 4.

The UNO Pizzeria & Grill locations will celebrate Pi Day (March 14) with a pizza offer at $ 3.14. On this date, which takes its name from the mathematical constant pi (3.14 …), diners in the dining room or to take away in participating UNO establishments can enjoy an individual thin-crust pizza “Pi” for 3, $ 14. No coupon is needed; customers can access the offer by simply telling their server that they would like “Pi Day Pizza”.

Built on a 10-inch hand-stretched crust, the pizza features a house sauce and a three-cheese blend of freshly grated mozzarella, aged cheddar, and imported Pecorino Romano.

The folks at UNO think the deal is ‘Instagram ready’ so they encourage customers to take a selfie of themselves enjoying their ‘Pi’ and post it, with the hashtag # UNOs314, to @unopizzeriaandgrill on Instagram. The published photos will be part of a raffle to win a loaded UNO gift card of $ 314. The winner will be announced on Instagram at the end of the promotion.

Locally, the UNO Pizzeria & Grill locations on Boston Road and Hall of Fame Avenue participate in the promotion, as does the UNO in the Holyoke Mall in Ingleside.

For the second year in a row, the National Restaurant Association had to cancel its NRA Show. The show, which is the largest trade show in the industry, brings together restaurateurs, chefs and foodservice managers in a multi-day event that includes exhibits on food and beverage trends. equipment as well as seminars, demonstrations and briefings. .

The 2020 show was canceled in May of last year when the COVID-19 pandemic ended major events nationwide. This year’s action is due to the rallying of height restrictions imposed by the state of Illinois, which has jurisdiction over Chicago’s McCormick Place exhibit center, the show’s longtime venue.

State COVID-19 precautions, which are currently expected to continue until early June, restrict gatherings of more than 50 people. McCormick Place management felt that even if these state restrictions were lifted earlier than expected, the facility could not be ready in time for the NRA Show’s scheduled opening on May 22.

More information on cancellation and associated policies can be found on the show website,

Burger King currently offers the “Sourdough King,” one- and two-patty versions of the chain’s quarter-pound burger.

Toasted sourdough bread replaces the bun in the “Sourdough King,” which is served topped with bacon, American cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise.

The Levain King will be available until April 19 at participating stores.

Laurie McDonald, who took over as an innkeeper at the Deerfield Inn in Deerfield, will present two special experiences this month.

For St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, Deerfield Inn’s Champney’s restaurant will feature Irish-inspired specialties in addition to the gastropub’s regular menu. The dinner menu that day will include ‘bangers & mash’, a traditional plate of corned beef and cabbage, and a roast leg of spring lamb.

On Saturday March 20, Champney’s will be hosting a Fancy Nancy lunch starting at 11:30 am Young people are encouraged to come dressed in fancy dress to enjoy a restaurant dinner accompanied by a reading of the classic Jane O ‘story. Connor, “Fancy Nancy”. Champney’s will offer a children’s lunch menu as well as selections for adults.

Reservations are recommended for both occasions and can be made by calling (413) 774-5587.

The Homestead restaurant in Northampton, which reopened last month, currently operates Friday through Sunday, take out only until outside seating becomes possible again.

The restaurant offers a scaled-down version of its regular menu that is complemented by chef Jeremy Werther’s weekend inspirations. Werther also implemented a temporary 6% COVID surcharge which he uses to supplement lost staff income.

Updates on Homestead, which is located at 7 Strong Avenue, can be found on their Instagram page, @eathomestead.

The establishment also answers at (413) 586-0502.

Beverage and coffee chain Dunkin ‘has announced limited-time offers for the 2021 spring season.

Savory options include avocado toast served on sourdough and a “Grilled Cheese Melt,” also made with sourdough bread and two types of cheese. Black Forest ham can also be added for a small extra charge.

In the area of ​​cold coffee drinks, Dunkin ‘promotes its “soft cold foam,” a blend of sweetened skim milk and cream, as a beverage garnish.

Participating locations also offer a Matcha Topped Donut, a raised iced donut topped with matcha green tea powder.

Hugh Robert is a faculty member in the Hospitality and Culinary Arts program at Holyoke Community College and has nearly 45 years of restaurant and educational experience. Robert can be reached online at [email protected].

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