Fungi Fuels the Minds of Silicon Valley

By Amelia Schwartz


Amelia Schwartz
Classic Pub Blended Burger with Cheese
Classic Pub Blended Burger with Cheese

Working in Silicon Valley is the dream for many in the tech industry. Sure, it’s where the world’s most beloved apps are birthed, but let’s not kid ourselves. A gig in The Valley isn’t only coveted for access to innovation, dollars, and influencers, but for the storied, nearly mythic perks that pique the curiosity (and envy) of all us non-tech workers. There are your basic fro-yo bars and napping chambers, to the more eyebrow raising in-home housekeeping (Evernote) and access to company yachts (iCracked). Outlandish perks aside, it’s important not to forget these dedicated tech pros deserve brain food that matches Silicon Valley’s general mission: to better the world and the people living in it.

Enter Michael Raub, a chef with experience in the kitchens of Thomas Keller as well as The Palace hotel and Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. In 2017, Raub joined Guckenheimer as a Regional Executive Chef and later became National Executive Chef of the Foodlab Innovation Test (FIT) Kitchen & Commissary at Guckenheimer, where he encourages plant-forward eating from the ground up. “I’ve always been interested in healthy eating,” says Raub. “I’m plant-forward myself, and I try to keep a vegan diet. Using that to develop recipes is fun.”

Raub researches and develops recipes for food services at more than 400 units. Most notably, he develops recipes for Samsung and Google eateries. Raub is the man behind the curtain, challenging himself to create delicious recipes that can be made on a large scale, nurture intelligent minds, and reduce carbon footprints.

One of his most popular creations is the Classic Pub Blended Burger with Cheese, which he developed with the FIT Kitchen team. Inspired by the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project, this patty is 64 percent ground crimini mushrooms, garlic, shallots, and chiles, and 36 percent ground beef. “You still get beef, but in my opinion, the mushrooms offer a deeper flavor,” Raub says. At a mammoth company like Samsung, Guckenheimer sells more than 300 blended burgers a day and for good reason. “[Eating less meat] makes you feel better while being a steward of the world we all share together.”

According to the World Research Institute, Americans eat upwards of ten million burgers annually. If we followed Raub’s footsteps and replaced roughly 60 percent of the meat with a mushroom blend for one year, we would: (1) save the energy equivalent to taking 4.6 million cars off the road, (2) eliminate 300 billion calories, and (3) save 28,000 square miles of agricultural land globally. Food for thought, now that’s more than a perk, that’s innovation.

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