Edible insects: Why chefs should embrace 'nature's best kept secret'

By Emma Eversham contact

- Last updated on GMT

Insect flour, made from roasted and ground mealworm and crickets, can be used to make bread
Insect flour, made from roasted and ground mealworm and crickets, can be used to make bread
The owners of a new business selling edible insects in the UK are encouraging chefs to embrace one of ‘natures best kept secrets’ and add them to their dishes.

Ex-Lego employees Josh Bentham and Harry Harrison founded Mophagy, a new European wholesaler of edible cricket and mealworm, earlier this year, are on a mission to normalise the practice of entomophagy and champion the products as a superfood.

The pair say the range of cricket and mealworm products they import from Entomo Farms in Canada not only taste good, but have nutritional benefits such as being high in protein, amino acids, fibre, omega 3 and 6 and iron. 

Bentham told BigHospitality the products, which are already being used at Grub Kitchen and Nomad in Birmingham (set to re-open as Wilderness), offer chefs multiple opportunities and he hoped they would be keen to further develop their use. 

He said the insect powder it sells, which entails the insects being roasted and then ground, could be added to a host of dishes such as bread, smoothies and curries, while the whole insects could be flavoured and offered as bar snacks. 

“We are starting to seed this and talk to lots of different chef partners. It’s our chance to hand it over and say ‘what are your thoughts on it? Where do you see it being used?’ We want it to be seen as less gimmicky and as something used more for its properties," he said.

"Those we've worked with have been excited. Aside from putting insects in lollies or other gimmicky things, this is something no-one really knows about. It’s not often you have a brand new food ingredient that can be used in so many sweet and savoury dishes brought to the food industry really, so it’s an exciting time.”

Benefits

Bentham said the benefits for restaurant owners went beyond giving them a point of difference from using a relatively new ingredient for the western market. 

"The powder is a unique flavour that can’t be likened to anything. It has a rich nutty taste which really adds something to the flavour of dishes, but there’s also the benefit of knowing that you’ve added a product that is zero sugar, has good fats and with strong protein levels and micro-nutrients, so it’s adding a health base to that dish that has been created," he said. 

“By 2050 we are going to have 9.5bn people on this planet so there is a challenge with our present farming methods to try and support this growing population. I’m not saying that insects are the silver bullet, but it’s another option to be able to pass over to restaurants as another staple food ingredient.”

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