Guest Blog: [Mock]
This week we asked Harpreet, one of the founders of [Mock] to tell us more about his story and how [Mock] was born. If you haven’t tried [Mock] yet, you can find their range in the freezers in our Spitalfields, Marble Arch, Chiswick and Ealing shops. Trust us, you don’t need to be vegetarian or vegan to love these delicious plant-based Indian meals and curries!
I can’t remember exactly when I went “meat-free” but it was around 1996. It wasn’t planned, I just felt a sudden change in me and something telling me to do it. Around the time I was going through lots of “soul searching” and reading a lot of philosophy. I’d also grown up with various members of my family who’d been meat free since birth who I really admired, so I guess sub consciously they inspired me…the rest is history.
I always enjoyed food, from the age of 9 I could make a basic meal like beans on toast, and I was always inquisitive, trying new things, experimenting etc. Food made me happy, I liked cooking and making other people happy, my dad always raved about my cooking, probably the only thing he ever complimented me on!
Becoming “meat-free” forced me to be creative so I tried using more vegetables and looked for combinations of spices to enhance flavours, sometimes using tofu to mimic chew. I still however yearned for something meaty and chewy and kept hoping somebody would invent something that tastes like meat. As time when on new products entered the market and there were more options to choose from but nothing quite like what I had envisioned.
In 2005 I met my co-founder, he’d been meat free from birth. His vision was to create a plant-based protein that mimicked chicken (and other animal-based proteins) which he did using matured soya beans. Unfortunately, the concept never quite took off as the market was nowhere near as established as it is today.
Fast forward to 2014, we both met for coffee and I floated the idea of kick starting the project again; the timing was much better, so we agreed to give it a try. I went off and prepared a simple Indian dish called Chicken Punjabi Curry using our soya-based plant protein instead of real chicken. I gave dishes out to anyone who was prepared to “give it a go” which included work colleagues from various backgrounds and ethnicity, as I wanted to get as much feedback as possible; interestingly nearly all the people who tried it were meat-eaters. The response we received was amazing, and people started to ask if they could buy it from us. Based on the feedback and how the market in general was going we thought it was worth another shot and started planning on what we really wanted to achieve.
As we started researching the market we realised that creating something that mimics chicken but isn’t chicken is a hard thing to name and communicate. It was so difficult in fact, that we spent over a year exploring, nothing we thought of sounded right. The “lightbulb moment” came to me in the summer of 2016. I was watching a re-run of Heston Blumenthal, who was doing an episode on fish and chips and how during the war British fishing trawlers were bombed so extensively that England ran out of fish and the government was forced to issue an alternative fish recipe (made from rice, flour, margarine, onion, and anchovies) as a replacement for fish, which they called it…MOCK fish. That was the very moment it dawned on me, that we were doing was exactly that, hence how we got our name, MOCK.