After running a fashion business for more than a decade, a six-month sabbatical was the perfect time for Michael Fox to read up on subjects that interested him personally. Already a vegetarian for four years and driven by a mix of health, environmental and ethical reasons, when Michael delved into the current industrial animal agriculture landscape, he felt he could make a contribution that would reduce human reliance on meat as a source of protein.
When he looked at the plant-based alternative category, he discovered a wealth of companies and producers already offering delicious meat alternatives, so wondered how he could differentiate. An avid farmers’ market shopper and cook, he wanted to find a natural, minimally processed meat alternative, and quickly settled on mushrooms.
Michael established Fable Food Co with Chris McLoghlin, who is (among other things) an organic mushroom farmer and expert in regenerative agriculture, along with Jim Fuller, a fine dining chef hailing from the undisputed heart of beef and barbecue country, Texas.
Jim was inspired by Heston Blumenthal’s scientific approach to food and has devoted the last 12 years to mycology – the science of mushrooms. He developed a slow -cooked barbeque that comprised mainly shredded shitakes (65%) and other natural minimally processed ingredients and was thrilled when Blumenthal himself took part in product trials.
Having a keen interest in the link between the gut microbiome and brain health, Blumenthal loved the taste and texture and the possibilities the product provided. That was formalised into a partnership with the product added to the menu at fine-dining venues in his Fat Duck Group.
The Fable team knew the product would also suit a simpler style of cooking and so partnered with the Sunshine Coast’s Glass House Brewery to launch two meat alternative pizzas — a vegetarian take on the venue’s famous Truffle Shuffle pizza and a vegan option that features a confit preparation of Fable’s mushroom mix.
As FAN members, both Fable and Glass House are reaping the benefits of belonging to a network of local producers and entrepreneurs. The pizza partnership proved so successful that the two are teaming up for another exciting new initiative, a Fable Cordyceps Glass House Vienna Lager. The Cordyceps sinensis, or caterpillar fungus, is a highly revered mushroom in traditional Chinese medicine, with Western science quickly catching up on recognising its beneficial medicinal compounds.
What started as a personal mission to lower meat consumption is taking exciting new turns every day, with the Fable product being used in initially unexpected and increasingly innovative ways. Fable launched nationally into Woolworths stores in June.