The facility, Upside says, demonstrates to the world exactly how this novel meat is made. “We’re starting to show, from day one, what this whole industry is about,” Upside Foods cofounder and CEO Uma Valeti said in May 2022. “This is the opposite of very closely guarded food innovations.”
But former and current employees say the Emeryville plant tells a misleading story of how Upside’s chicken is made. In fact, sources say, the company’s flagship product—the juicy whole cuts of chicken served at Bar Crenn—are brewed, almost by hand, in tiny bottles. The huge bioreactors, those sources claim, simply aren’t capable of reliably brewing the sheets of tissue needed to form whole cuts of meat such as chicken fillets.