This November, vegan cheese brand Grounded Foods will debut its first products. Founded by Australian couple Veronica Fil and Shaun Quade (an award-winning chef), Grounded uses proprietary processes to create realistic vegan cheese with a commendable nutritional profile from locally sourced ingredients such as cauliflower and hemp. The company uses the entire cauliflower (upcycled when possible) and various fermenting and aging techniques, along with natural ingredients such as garlic, mustard, and onion, to achieve a variety of cheese flavors. Grounded has already developed 35 cheese varieties and will launch with three: Hemp Seed Cream Cheese, Hemp Seed Feta, and Cheese-Free Cheese Sauce.
“I started Grounded Foods as a side-hustle back when my husband Shaun and I had a fine dining restaurant in Australia. He’s been a chef for nearly 20 years, and has this insane knack for making food out of ingredients that you’d never expect,” Fil told VegNews. “The first plant-based cheese he made was just for fun, to trick people into eating a ‘camembert’ that was actually made entirely of veggies. Only, it was so convincing that nobody realized—and it took an entire year before he told anyone it wasn’t real dairy.” When Fil discovered that the cheese was made from plants, she commercialized the recipe and launched the company.
While the initial products are made from cauliflower, hemp seeds, or a blend of both, Fil and Quade—who now live in California, where 90 percent of cauliflower is grown—are developing additional cheeses made from unusual vegetable ingredients. “Unlike most brands, who use expert food scientists and technologists to develop their products, this one was created by a chef who simply thinks outside the box, with no formal education or university degree, out of his home kitchen,” Fil said. “And I think that those are the circumstances that lead to true innovation.”
The company’s cheese flavors will first launch in the US with a yet-to-be-named vegan quick-service restaurant chain and meal kit delivery platform before setting its sights on expanding to the founders’ home country of Australia. In 2021, the company plans to launch additional flavors made specifically for retailers such as Whole Foods Market.
Photo Credit: Shaun Quade