Novel microencapsulation techniques in haute-cuisine

How Pietro Catalano, a 14 point GaultMillau chef used microcaps’ kelp-based notCaviar for his signature dish on the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn 

Pietro Catalano, a 14 GaultMillau point chef served microcap’s kelp-based core-shell product called “notCaviar” as a part of a nine courses menu on the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn. Read how the team of microcaps worked with Pietro to create a product which guests stated tastes as exquisite as caviar – but is cruelty-free

Plant-based foods are conquering the food industry by storm since the late 10s. Chicken and egg alternatives are ever-present in grocery stores whereas the ones from fish are limited to smoked salmon, fish sticks, and fish roe, so far. Specifically, the latter provides room for innovation and creativity for food scientists, producers, and sellers alike as fish roe comes in various sizes, colors, and quality and is represented in all price ranges imaginable. Sturgeon roe, better known as caviar, is one of the food products associated with the highest quality, pure luxury, and pleasure. Its complexity in texture, taste and nutritional profile along with its delicate(/problematic) production make it a rare and expensive good.

Pietro Catalano, a 14 GaultMillau point chef is someone that cherishes delicacy, richness, and complexity and frequently uses caviar in his dishes. One of his signature dishes is “My sweet Caviar”, a white chocolate crème topped with caviar. Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn invited Pietro to their annual “Exquisit Reisen und Speisen” event. Pushing his boundaries and challenging consumers, Pietro wanted to give his signature dish a twist. Here microcaps, as a specialist in formulating and up-scaling particle production like caviar using plant-based ingredients, takes the stage!

notCaviar microencapsulated food
notCaviar preparation by Pietro Catalano

Custom recipe-formulation by the team of microcaps

Formulation Specialist Michael Diener took the lead in putting this vision to the lab together with lab technician Joungho Lim. All the requirements from Pietro regarding taste, texture and visuals were implemented to create a caviar alternative within a few weeks’ time. The close collaboration included several recipe-iterations with tastings, and great teamwork. The result is mouth-watering and eye-catching! The kelp-based, core-shell microcapsules, called “notCaviar” are visually, texturally, and taste-wise distinctive to caviar.

Scalability thanks to novel microencapsulation technique

The upscaling to produce several kilograms of the final product was only feasible with the in-house developed and patented technology of microcaps. Besides the large amounts of particles that can be created, also repeatability and quality can be assured. The demanded amount was produced, heat-treated, and packed within a handful of days only and successfully handed over. The adaptation of “My sweet Caviar” was served as the last course of a total nine courses during an eight-hour train ride through the snowy Swiss alps. The initial saltiness, followed by the smooth burst of the capsule releasing the buttery flavor from within matched perfect with the smooth and creamy sweetness of the white chocolate crème. The premiere of “notCaviar” was a full success as it was praised from many sides. A passenger stated that even though she is “not experimental with and is not in favor of the current available meat alternatives”, she loved “notCaviar”! In this video you can get a sneak peek about the notCaviar experience on the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn.

Summarizing, the close collaboration with 14 GaultMillau points chef Pietro Catalano brought “notCaviar” to the next level by providing the balance in visuals, taste, and texture. It showed what microcaps’ upscalable microencapsulation technology paired with their expertise in formulation is capable of: Creating new products which are not only beautiful to look at, but also tasty.

Pietro CatalanoThe Team of microcaps created an excellent product, which suits perfectly our signature dish
Pietro Catalano