Zesty pepperoni. Smoky ribs. Juicy chorizo. Tangy sausage. Mmmm, meat, glorious fake meat. It’s the toothy, textured and 100-percent vegan gourmet grub behind Aubry and Kale Walch’s overnight success.
The enterprising Minneapolis sister-and-brother duo -- yes, one half of which is all too perfectly named Kale -- are taking the dead meat out of the bloody butcher business. That’s right, one wheat gluten “Jimmy Fallon Teeny Cocktail Weenie” at a time. (Sure enough, their spicy PR sausage-naming ploy briefly caught the comic’s eye and ire.)
Fresh off of raising nearly $62,000 on Kickstarter, the two are now in the throes of launching what they're billing as America’s first meat-free butcher shop and deli.
Their coming establishment, slated to open in Minnesota’s City of Lakes next spring, will be named after their popular farmer’s market stand, The Herbivorous Butcher. And, of course, it’ll be chock full of locally-sourced, handcrafted oxymoronic eats -- meat-free meats.
On the menu will be the same trendy, plant-based “meats” that already have customers -- real meat-eaters, vegans and “burly bikers” alike -- regularly lining up outside the Walchs’ Minneapolis Farmer’s Market popup for a taste. The stand debuted last June to rave reviews.
The duo plan to pack even more non-meaty goodness into their brick-and-mortar shop, including expanded weekly specials, vegan “cheeses,” “meat” rubs, marinades, breads, gluten-free products and ready-to-eat and take-and-bake items. Thanksgiving “turkeys” and holiday “hams” are also in the works. Tofurky, anyone?
Aubry, 33, has been a strict vegetarian for 18 years. For more than decade, she’s experimented with creating meat-free alternatives to the animal protein-heavy foods she grew up eating in Guam. Inspired by his sister, Kale, 20, gave up meat, too, then later went completely vegan.
They say the lip-smacking magic behind their meatless “meat” is, go figure, its meaty texture. One of their bestsellers is their pinto bean-based Italian sausage. “We call it our gateway meat,” Aubry recently told the St. Paul Business Journal, “because it’s really meaty and meat eaters can’t tell the difference. The uneven texture of the beans really gives the texture that creepy unevenness that meat has. Most of our products use vital wheat gluten, too. It’s magical. You can make any fake meat with it.”
Mmmm, yummy, that creepy unevenness of meat, the stuff the Walch sibs’ savory entrepreneurial dreams are made of.