There’s a new butcher in town, and they’re completely plant-based. Launching their alternative meats butchery at the end of January that emphasises both a physical and digital presence, burger joint Love Handle is putting plenty of fun into veganism.
On the first floor, the butchery and dine-in deli is divided into three sections: Raw meats (frozen/chilled); Marinated and Prepared Meats; and Condiments and Dairy. Over the counter will be plant-based brands familiar to most by now such as Tindle and Impossible, but the majority are a result of Love Handle’s own innovation. While the diner on the second floor will serve up ready-to-eat meals such as a ginger soy chicken with mee sua or a plant-based sausage patty, frittata, waffle and avocado.
We chat with Love Handle’s CEO and co-founder, Ken Kuguru, and executive chef and co-founder, Addis Tan, to learn more.
Is Love Handle for vegans or non-vegan eaters?
KK: Love Handle products, including our plant-based meats, dairy products and condiments, are very much for meat-eaters! That’s because our curation and innovation departments only approve plant-based proteins which check-off the “100% Meaty” checkbox! Of course we are sure that vegetarians, flexitarians, pescetarians and every kind of “arians” will love all our products too, but our passion and mission is to give meat lovers the option to enjoy the big meaty flavours and succulent textures they adore, and be good to the planet at the same time.
There definitely has been an uptick of vegan-friendly places and options showing up. How will Love Handle stand out from the crowd?
KK: Love Handle enjoys the unique position of being Asia’s 1st Digital-Led Plant-Based Butcher. Apart from introducing more delicious plant-based options into the home-cooked meals of consumers, we also support all eateries that have a desire to expand their plant-based offerings. In short, we are here to support, build and grow the plant-based industry together with everyone that shares our vision.
What does the future of Love Handle look like in the next five years?
KK: As Asia’s 1st Plant-based digital platform, we aim to create a community of both consumers and chefs that will push the growth of Asia’s plant-based market. Apart from being the go-to for finding and procuring the best plant-based meats, dairy products and condiments, we are also a digital platform for both consumers and industry to learn new ways of preparing great tasting meals at home or in their restaurants; and where one and all can share their recipes and experiences. Growing the market is, however, a means to an end. Together with our customers and community, we want to make a major impact in reducing dangerous greenhouse-gas emissions and supporting the eventual sufficient production of enough food to reach all of earth’s population.
How did the idea of Love Handle butchery come about?
AT: We started Love handle as a burger joint using plant-based meats. As we grew, I started to get a lot of alternative meat samples from different companies and suppliers. It got to a point where I found myself with a fridge full of plant-based products. That’s when I thought we should open a butchery and share these products — alongside Love Handle’s plant-based innovations — with everyone who loves meaty-goodness with an Earth-friendly purpose.
Why do you think there’s a need for this?
AT: Not a lot of these products are readily available to the general public. But our role is not just to put products on the shelf, but to improve the accessibility of plant-based meats. So, instead of confusing consumers with too many options, we curate our range of offerings. At the same time, we educate. Some are simply afraid to cook what they don’t understand, so our knowledgeable staff offer personable introductory guides to our range of frozen and semi-prepared products, and our digital platform gives home chefs easy access to on-demand video recipes. These all serve to make plant-based meats less intimidating, even for those who have never tried it before.
Are there any special ways the plant-based meats are treated/marinated at the butchery?
AT: Yes & no. We are constantly experimenting, and have marinated and brined alternative meats the way you would a normal slab of meat. However, that doesn’t always work for all products. So, we do have get creative in terms of how to optimally infuse flavours to certain products, and apply techniques such as aging to draw natural flavours from different vegetables so as to enhance the taste and texture of the final product.
How would you describe the concept?
AT: I would say it’s like your neighbourhood butcher shop: you come for the meats, but stay for the conversations (and food, and drinks!) It’s not just a physical community space, but a digital one too: folks can always jump on our digital platform to order, access video recipes or connect with other members of the plant-based community. While we would love to welcome you down at our Butcher Shop and give you a taste of whatever is cooking, we also want to make it easy for you to connect with us through whichever channel you prefer to match your busy lifestyle and make delicious home cooked plant-based meal a reality for anyone who wants it.
Are there any products exclusive to Love Handle?
AT: Yes! Available only at our butcher are our own line of products, such as the Love Handle Ginger Soy mince, Love Handle Brisket, Love Handle Ham and tons of other stuff like our crazy good Love Handle Plant-based Butter and Feta Cheese. We’re constantly developing new products, so pop into our Butcher shop if you want a chance to sample the latest and greatest!