Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman literally wrote the book on bold flavors, so it should come as no surprise that he looks for ways to boost the taste profiles of his food. One incredibly effective method he’s found is to use animal fats.
Animal fats have been uses for centuries to cook foods and impart flavor, but some cooks have been hesitant to use animal fats in the U.S. This has stemmed from the fact that recent generations of Americans haven’t been exposed to as many animal fats. “American cultures generally grew up with margarine and canola and things like that that are much more neutral in flavor, and I don’t think they are familiar with animal fats,” Fleischman says.
Many of these products fell out of favor with the public in the past few decades when it was believed that they were unhealthy for humans. Chefs and home cooks used plant-based products like canola and partially hydrogenated soybean oil as a substitute. Research in the last few years has shown that this perception of animal fats as unhealthy may not be entirely accurate. As a result, some cooks, restaurants, and even grocery stores are beginning to once again embrace animal fats.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that animal fats are unhealthy,” Fleischman says. “I think they will become more accepted. Just look at the 70s and 80s when research said that animal fats were unhealthy and people switched to margarine instead of butter. Since then, people have realized margarine was less healthy, so they’ve gone back to butter—an animal product—and you don’t see margarine on menus anymore.”