Spotlight Interview: Amos Golan, Founder and CEO of Chunk Foods


Amos Golan, the Founder and CEO of Chunk Foods, is a passionate innovator with a diverse background in science, engineering, design, and culinary arts. With an MSc. in Organic Chemistry and a second Master’s degree focused on Human-Computer Interaction from MIT Media Lab, Golan has conducted cutting-edge research and collaborated on futuristic projects with Fortune 500 companies.

In this interview, Golan shares the story behind Chunk Foods and its mission to create better meat alternatives. He discusses the company’s focus on creating plant-based whole cut products with exceptional taste, flavor, and texture. Golan emphasizes the importance of providing minimally processed alternatives in the plant-based industry, aligning with consumer preferences for healthier and more natural food options. Golan also delves into Chunk’s unique fermentation process, which sets it apart from other manufacturers in the space.

Golan addresses the challenges faced by the alternative meat sector and how Chunk’s focus on taste, texture, accessibility, and price sets it apart in a saturated market. Golan shares the exciting news of Chunk’s expansion, with their products being served in hotspot restaurant menus across the United States. From vegan establishments to traditional steakhouses, Chunk’s versatility has captured the attention of chefs and restaurant operators, offering plant-based options across various cuisines.

Golan with other members of the Chunk Foods team exhibiting at this month’s National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo credit: J. Zabin for Restaurant Technology News)

What’s the story behind Chunk Foods?

I moved to the US in 2016 to go to MIT, just around the same time when Impossible and Beyond became well known to the public. I have been absolutely intrigued by space ever since. So a couple of months after the pandemic hit in 2020, and while everyone was growing their own sourdough starters or making viral feta pasta dishes, I was thinking about ways to create better meat alternatives. I knew I wanted to start a company, and to create a product that was healthier and cleaner than the products that you could find on the market. It was also clear to me that we had enough burgers and nuggets, and that people were craving something with texture! I realized that only very few companies have scaled solutions for plant-based whole cut products that actually taste great.

Chunk made history by becoming the first plant-based steak to launch at a traditional steakhouse chain. Talk of the Town Restaurants in Central Florida offer its 6oz Steakhouse Cut across their menus at all Charley’s Steakhouse locations, Fishbones Grill, and Vito’s Chop House.

So, I set out to create a plant-based meat that was delicious and made using as few recognizable ingredients as possible. It was clear that taste, flavor and texture are key to making a craveable product that people would actually choose to eat. I started working on prototypes of what is now Chunk iterating and tinkering in my kitchen and an improvised lab I built in a small room, the size of a large closet, in our small Brooklyn apartment. My wife and I tried the products I made regularly to see if we were able to create something that tastes like meat.

After numerous iterations and taste tests, I nearly gave up, but one weekend my wife asked, “When are you making that thing you made last week again? I really want to eat it again.” And that’s when I realized that we created something cravable.

Jumping forward a few years from that prototype I made in my NYC apartment, my team is now making one of the cleanest, and most satisfying plant-based products, without any binders or preservatives, and with our signature texture, flavor and juiciness that have become synonymous with Chunk. Fast forward and we’re now the first plant-based steak product to be a regular menu item in a large steakhouse chain in the US.

Sustainability and responsible business practices are deeply ingrained in our ethos and we are looking to use our technology and corporate culture to leave a positive mark. We started piloting our products in 2022 and the responses were overwhelmingly positive. People resonated with our dedication to creating a plant-based product steak that didn’t compromise on taste or quality.

Can you talk a little bit about your fermentation process and how that’s different from what others are doing?

Chunk focuses on a natural fermentation technology, which is used in the foods we all love and eat regularly such as coffee and cocoa, bread and cheese. This type of fermentation is a critical enabler in the food industry and is responsible for many of the flavors and textures we love.

Most other whole-cut manufacturers are using other technologies that come short on culinary performance, perception, scale, nutritional profile or all of these combined. At Chunk, we use fermentation processes that are similar to how other foods are made to create delicious plant- based meats that are scalable (think bread!), natural, and cheap.

When compared to submerged fermentation that is used by some of our competitors, a process that’s common in the pharmaceutical industry, solid-state fermentation requires less water and resources and results in a superior product in terms of taste and texture. When compared to classic extrusion technologies, such as those used by others in the space, our products are juicier, have much better and more realistic texture and mouthfeel, and do not require binders, and methyl cellulose.

Chunk’s technology offers the best of both worlds; scalability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, while delivering on taste, texture. The patented process we developed offers major advantages in scaleup and manufacturing, better control of product properties and competitive unit economics.

What are some of the key ingredients that are used to make your plant-based whole cuts and how do they allow for you to meet clean label demand?

Chunk’s products are radically different, yet comfortably familiar. They have a meaty texture and bite, and unmistakable umami flavors. Minimally processed and made with just a handful of recognizable ingredients, Chunk has no preservatives, additives, cholesterol or GMOs, and boasts 25 grams of protein.

Chunk is proudly made with cultured soy and wheat, beet juice, coconut oil, water, salt, and fortified with B12 and Iron. Truly just simple, clean ingredients that anyone can pronounce. We like to say we make food that we like to eat and that’s the simple truth.

Why is providing minimally processed alternatives important in the plant-based industry?

Providing minimally processed alternatives is essential in the plant-based industry for several reasons. First and foremost, consumers are increasingly seeking healthier and more natural food options. Minimally processed products align with these preferences by retaining the nutritional value and inherent benefits of plant-based ingredients. The perception among consumers that eat meat is that their protein choices should be clean and simple. They don’t want to see a long list of ingredients they’re unfamiliar with. Beef is labeled as beef and they’re accustomed to that. Yes, there are more things in beef that don’t require labeling, but we need to understand this and do our best as an industry to meet this expectation.

Lastly, maintaining a clean label and using simple, recognizable ingredients fosters trust among consumers. People want to know what they’re eating, and offering minimally processed alternatives allows us to be transparent about the ingredients used, helping consumers make informed choices. We don’t want junk in our food at Chunk, that’s why we don’t use fillers, binders, thickeners, or preservatives. 

The Restaurant Technology News editorial team had the opportunity to try your products at the National Restaurant Show. We were extremely impressed. How did you achieve the juicy and tender texture of your steak product?

While I can’t reveal all of our secrets, I can say that it’s achieved using beet juice and our proprietary fermentation process. The juiciness of our steaks and the fact that they’re incredibly good at absorbing marandes is because of the solid state fermentation. Again, fermentation has been around for centuries and is how some of our favorite foods have been made for ages, including bread and cheese. So it’s not science fiction or magic, it’s really just food.

What is the biggest challenge the alternative meat sector is having right now?

Over the last decade we’ve seen a boom in the plant-based industry, and numerous companies introduced very similar products to the market. While some have been great, many others came short on culinary performance. The market stopped growing as fast as it did, and got saturated. I believe consumers have widely embraced many of these products, but none of them gave a complete solution. However, companies with new delicious and healthy products, like Chunk, succeed in meeting consumers’ expectations and will make the plant-based space larger by introducing it to more customers, and people who never thought they would eat a plant-based product. Chunk is able to deliver on what’s most important to consumers: taste and texture, as well as accessibility and price.

Where is Chunk currently served? 

Our products can be found on hotspot menus from coast to coast. While we launched in New York City and quickly expanded to Los Angeles, we’re now served at restaurants up and down the east coast, from Boston to Miami, as well as in cities like St. Louis and Fort Worth, and from San Diego to Seattle.

What’s more, our products can be found in all types of restaurants, from all-vegan establishments to traditional steakhouses, and from omakase to Italian restaurants. Chefs and restaurant operators are taking notice of the versatility of our products and seeing the potential they hold across all cuisines.

Last August, we made history by becoming the first plant-based steak to launch at a traditional steakhouse chain. Talk of the Town Restaurants in Central Florida offer our 6oz Steakhouse Cut across their menus at all Charley’s Steakhouse locations, Fishbones Grill, and Vito’s Chop House. We’ve since started working with more than a dozen different steakhouses, offering diners a unique experience and ensuring everyone gets to enjoy a delicious juicy steak.

While Chunk has been on the market for over a year now, can you discuss some of the new products that you just launched? 

We just launched our brand new Chunk Cubes and Chunk Slabs at the National Restaurant Association Show in May 2024. The response was overwhelming and we can’t wait to get it fully into the market. Our Cubes and Slabs were designed to make serving plant-based easier and more delicious, no matter what the cut of meat a dish calls for. Chunk’s new Slab is the largest whole-cut product made from plants to hit the market and is ideal for briskets and pastrami, smoking and grilling and carving table side. 

The new Cubes were developed to be the perfect protein addition for fast casual establishments, such as in a salad or as a bowl topping. They can be prepared in standard prep methods in fast casual restaurants such as a griddle, microwave, sous vide, and convection ovens. These new products were crafted using the same technology and clean ingredients as Chunk’s existing award-winning offerings.