Tender Food is a plant-based meat technology company that is working to create an entirely new category of alternative meats, including quality steaks and chicken breasts. Tender‘s technology, which is based on innovations developed at Harvard, is unique in its ability to recreate the muscle fiber structure of meat directly from plants.

“Our goal is to build, from the muscle fiber up, every single piece of meat and seafood you would find in the meat aisle — providing consumers with delicious, nutritious, and affordable meat alternatives so that eating animals just doesn’t make sense anymore!

Tender co-founder and CEO Christopher Chantre told the Boston Globe. “That’s really what we’re going after – is that next-level quality of texture.”


Tender was created in a Harvard laboratory and will be officially released in 2020 by Greentown Labs in Somerville, MA. Chantre founded the company as a graduate project and reportedly spent nine years on research and development.


Tender’s first product, plant-based pulled pork, is currently being tested exclusively at Boston’s Saus restaurant, where the protein is featured in the Pineapple-Teriyaki Pulled Pork sandwich. Customers have enjoyed the product, according to Saus co-owner and chef Chin Kuo.


“We work with a lot of different plant-based meats,” shared Kuo. “We had the pleasure to work with Tender – they’re just down the street in Greentown Labs. They have an awesome product that is as close to, in my opinion, the best plant-based pulled pork product there is.”


Tender is also working on plant-based beef, chicken, and seafood, according to Chantre.

While the company hasn’t revealed the full list of ingredients, co-founder and CSO Luke MacQueen says it uses plant proteins from foods like beans, peas, and rice to make a succulent product with meaty density and texture.

“We have a technology that is similar to a cotton candy machine. In the cotton candy machine, you turn sugar into fibers, and here we turn proteins into fibers,” MacQueen explained.


Tender raised $12 million in a seed round led by actress Natalie Portman, among others, in March 2022.