Feast on insects

2019-07-23 06:25
The Insect Experience in Woodstock serves food made of insects.

The Insect Experience in Woodstock serves food made of insects.

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Very few people know of restaurants serving insects – well, not insects as such, but insect-based foods.

Situated on Sir Lowry Street in Woodstock, The Insect Experience is led by food scientist, Leah Bessa, and Jean Louwrens, who serves as the operations manager.

Their pop-up store in GOOD; a space where businesses, society and the environment can sustainably exist while redefining sustainability as the complete overhaul of the way people produce, consume and create, has received a lot of attention from media and consumers since it was opened in June this year.

The plan was to serve only ice cream made from insect larvae, but the two went on to create a whole menu of insect-based foods such as date balls, cream wafers and chocolate, which all are covered in mealworms. They also sell popcorn sprinkled with mopane worm salt.

“We started Gourmet Grubb in 2017, we spent the following two years researching developing a dairy alternative using insects,” Bessa said.

“Upon conducting the research, we were originally just going to do ice cream, but then decided on doing something totally different and posted on social media that we were looking for a chef who would like to experiment with insects to produce food.”

They were then contacted by chef Mario Barnard, who took an interest in cooking with insects while visiting Thailand in 2015.

Bessa then sent Barnard ingredients to experiment with and he managed to come up with some preliminary recipes.Insects are nutritious

Bessa said they decided to go with insects because they are filled with protein; something that few people know.

Taking a risk of this nature is something not many people will do, but the three were brave enough to take that leap of faith and brave whatever challenges they might face.

“Come to think of it, we were really brave when taking such a risk, we could have fallen flat on our faces, but I am glad we did it.

“The attention we are receiving is phenomenal because we want to build the industry around sustainable food and ethical protein; and insects are really a good option, but are underutilised.”

She said the reason for this is because people have not tried it, so they do not know.

“We wanted to create a platform where people can try insects in dishes that are delicious and beautifully plated.”

Barnard said his trip to Thailand, where he had the chance to try foods like scorpions, really fascinated him and made him want to try cooking with insects. “When I came back, I tried a couple of times and then I met Leah and Jean. I never looked back since.”

Now, he cooks with insects full time. V For more information visit www.instagram.com/gourmetgrubb/.

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