Chef Chris Cosentino is a meat purist.
Over the years, he's crafted some of the most adventurous, meaty menus in the food industry. His nose-to-tail philosophy involves serving the whole animal, from lamb's necks to pig feet.
Needless to say, his San Francisco restaurant and oyster bar, Cockscomb, might be the last place you would expect to find a veggie burger on the menu.
But last week, Cosentino and two other California-based chefs announced they would start serving the meatless hamburger from Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods. The plant-based burger has garnered buzz for its unmistakably meaty quality, from the rich caramelization to the juices it bleeds. It's made from wheat protein, coconut oil, potatoes, and a secret ingredient, heme.
Cosentino likens existing veggie burgers you buy in the grocery store to "hockey pucks."
The first time he tried the Impossible Burger was in the company of Chef Traci Des Jardins, owner of Jardinière (another San Francisco restaurant that will serve the burger) and Cosentino's former boss. He remembers the way it browned on the grill and produced a sizzling sound.
"My senses just became overloaded. I could smell meat," Cosentino said at a recent Impossible Foods press event in San Francisco.
Cosentino, who won season four of "Top Chef Masters" in 2012, is now serving the Impossible Burger as a "smash burger" at Cockscomb. It's seared in a cast-iron skilled and topped with caramelized onions, lettuce, gruyere, dijon mustard, and his great-grandmother's famous pickles.
The meat-loving chef told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week that the restaurant sells 100 to 125 of the burgers daily.
"This is a craveable product," Cosentino tells Business Insider. "This is not 'BS.' It's honest."