A Restaurant in South Africa Serves Only Insect-based Gourmet Meals

Insect Experience Pop-up in Cape Town, South Africa
The Insect Experience's polenta fries are made with mopane worm flour. Photo: Courtesy of Gourmet Grubb

Forget tofu or soy milk. Entrepreneurs out of South Africa have opened a pop-up restaurant dedicated to serving gourmet meals, all made from alternative, insect-based ingredients.

The Insect Experience opened in Cape Town last month and has been successfully serving trepidatious customers dishes like chickpea black-fly-larvae croquettes, polenta fries made from mopane worm flour and mealworm biscuits.

Insect Experience Pop-up in Cape Town, South Africa
Pasta with black soldier fly larvae, garnished with mealworms is one Insect Experience dish. Courtesy of Gourmet Grubb

According to their website, the pop-up hopes to bring “insects as a food source to the city of Cape Town in a stylish, innovative and experiential way.”

“Since I started experimenting with [insect-based] powders and messing with the food and hiding in it in a kind of gourmet way, I’ve found its a much easier way to eat,” chef Mario Barnard told Business Insider South Africa. “We try to present it as visual as possible to Westerns to make it easy to eat.”

The adventurous new dishes are possible thanks to food scientist Leah Bessa. Bessa developed an alternative milk (called EntoMilk) that is used to make an ice cream called Gourmet Grubb.

"It's a sustainable protein alternative to reduce our carbon footprint in the world,” Barnard told Eyewitness News. “We want to show people that it's not so bad, and it's huge in [fiber], huge in protein, magnesium, everything... it's a superfood."

Most of the insects used come from South Africa, with a few species sourced from neighboring ZImbabwe.

The restaurant was supposed to close in August but will remain open through at least mid-2020, due to its success, according to CNN.

Although the restaurant may be unique in its commitment to insect-based cuisine, there are several other places around the globe where you can dine on bugs. Mexico is famous for its chapulin, or grasshoppers. In Switzerland, you can take an insect cooking class. Or you can make like one chef and travel around the world looking for the best bug-based meals.

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