David Zilber (ex-Noma) joins fermentation forces with Chr. Hansen

David Zilber (ex-Noma) joins fermentation forces with Chr. Hansen
"Fermentation is undergoing a democratization, and that’s something we both want to help accelerate.” (photo by Asmund Sollihøgda)
Press Release | Oct 06. 2020 08:51 GMT

New partnership sets out to democratize fermentation and create new solutions for a climate friendly food system

For the past five years, David Zilber was the Head of Fermentation at Noma, which was voted as the best restaurant in the world several times over the last decade. Recently, he decided it was time for a new challenge. Given their obvious fermentation expertise and strong sustainability profile, Chr. Hansen turned out to be Zilber’s logical next career step in the form of a partnership with the 145-year-old global bioscience company.

“At Noma, I felt like I had accomplished everything I had set out to and more. Also, the pandemic really made me think about the shape of the world from a new perspective. I wanted to take the values and tenets that I believe in to the next level and scale them up to affect real change in the food system. And Chr. Hansen is already such a powerhouse within that world. A powerhouse in the realm of good microbes, a realm where I can put my skills to use, helping to create delicious and healthy solutions. I want to apply some of the ideas I have in mind to problems on a massive scale and try to do as much good as possible in the process. There’s a common mission we’re both striving to accomplish. And because of that, this really feels like a perfect match,” says Zilber.

Zilber believes there lies great potential in the 40,000 microbial strains of Chr. Hansen: “It’s a hugely underexplored domain of life. There's so much richness within the natural world, so many organic molecules to be created. What flavors might people not have tasted? There's so much work to do and to me, microbes figure as a keystone in those solutions and Chr. Hansen seems like the ideal partner. Fermentation is undergoing a democratization, and that’s something we both want to help accelerate.”

Pushing the boundaries of fermentation – the friendly microorganisms and real master chefs behind some of the world’s most cherished food

Chr. Hansen is also excited about this collaboration between Zilber and their world-class scientists. “We are thrilled about welcoming David to Chr. Hansen. He has gained distinctive experience in the exciting world of fermentation, which is basically the biochemical breakdown of a substance by microbes, both preserving food and creating unique flavors, textures and enhanced nutrition,” explains Laurent Hubert, vice president in FC&E, Head of Food & Beverages, Chr. Hansen.

“Together, we want to push the boundaries of fermentation. We will focus on delivering groundbreaking innovation with new tastes, experiences, crops,…We want to improve the sensory experiences of our customers and create fast-track prototypes production in fermented plant bases. David will grow his ideas in his own fermentation kitchen, which is being built now. We are convinced he can bring some unique solutions to the table for the benefit of the planet. Fermentation is a technology that has been used for thousands of years, yet even today we have not explored its full potential in terms of addressing global challenges such as a sustainable food production, fighting food waste and climate change,” continues Hubert.

Zilber and Chr. Hansen are a unique set-up, according to Hubert: “David is someone who can address a wide and diverse audience in a very thoughtful way, sharing his innovative insights on fermentation. Teaming that kind of personality up with a company who has been in the fermentation business for almost 150 years hopefully delivers a fruitful mix of drive, scientific knowledge and purpose. It is a partnership born out of passion for fermentation. Coming from arguably one of the world’s best restaurants to join one of the world’s most sustainable companies, David can contribute together with us to a resilient and tasteful food system. This will be a major asset to develop our two lighthouses: This will be a major asset to develop our two lighthouses: Bioprotection (food cultures against food waste) and Fermented Plant Bases, which has just been introduced as a lighthouse. We are looking forward to a constructive collaboration.”

Chr. Hansen is a global, differentiated bioscience company that develops natural ingredient solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. At Chr. Hansen we are uniquely positioned to drive positive change through microbial solutions. We have worked for almost 150 years to enable sustainable agriculture, better food and healthier living for more people around the world. Our microbial and fermentation technology platforms, including our broad and relevant collection of around 50,000 microbial strains, have game-changing potential. Matching customer needs and global trends we continue to unlock the power of good bacteria to respond to global challenges such as food waste, global health and the overuse of antibiotics and pesticides. As one of the world’s most sustainable companies, we touch the lives of more than 1 billion people every day. Driven by our legacy of innovation and curiosity to pioneer science, our purpose – To grow a better world. Naturally. – is at the heart of everything we do.

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