Julienne Bruno is on a mission to make plant-based the most exciting choice for food lovers. This mission begins with the launch of our line of plant-based food products: a range of dairy-free cheeses and dry-aged vegetables.
The company name plays on two types of culinary knife cut for vegetables - julienne (long thin strips) and brunoise (cubed) - highlighting the central role of gastronomic tradition and plant-based ingredients in the product line. But above all, the focus is always on quality, detail and flavour.
Julienne Bruno’s founder - Axel Katalan - has always loved food. As a child in Barcelona, the family kitchen was his playground. Five years ago he left a successful career in the tech industry to realise his dream of becoming a chef - working as a concept developer for Alan Yau, and in product development in Albert Adria’s kitchen. Today he leads our international team of passionate, creative chefs, along with Director of Food, Chi San and Board Advisor Alan Yau in their goal to create delicious and original plant-based food.
This is an introduction to Julienne Bruno, in the words of Axel Katalan.
One thing I’ve always been sure of is that I wanted to work with plant-based food. I’m vegan. I believe veganism is the future. And I feel the best form of activism is creating plant-based food that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. We’re not saying: “Eat this, it’s ethical; it’s good for the environment.” It is ethical. It is good for the environment. But that’s not the entry point. We’re just saying: “Try this, we think you’ll like it.” Our food is not about persuasion; it’s about seduction.
In early 2020, I was about to open a vegan burger restaurant in Soho - and then COVID hit. The romantic idea of a brick and mortar location was no longer feasible. I still wanted to address the plant-based market, but without relying on a physical space. That’s when the idea for Julienne Bruno started to bubble up. The idea of creating products that we can ship straight to people’s homes. To restaurants. To retailers.
Two years later Julienne Bruno has its very own kitchen, fully kitted out. We’ve created a unique process of dry-ageing vegetables and fermenting dairy-free cheeses. We have a list of 20 products in the pipeline that we love. And now we’re launching three flagship dairy-free cheeses: superstraccia, burrella and the crematta.
We always strive to launch products we are proud of. It’s not up to us to say it’s good. But we want our customers to feel that everything we launch has gone through certain filters to be produced with a focus on quality and taste.
Quality is at the forefront of everything we do. And quality can be broken down into the decisions as to what ingredients you use, and the fine level of detail in what you do with them.
So imagine you’re making a pizza. There are two ways you can put a tomato on your pizza. You can get a cherry tomato, cut it and place it on the pizza. That’s the traditional way. That’s great. Or, you can take your cherry tomato, cut it and gently saute it in the pan so it creates a bit of caramelisation on the outer layer. Then cool it down, marinate it in garlic and finally place it on top of your pizza. Both methods produce pizza with tomatoes on top. But these are two very different pizzas.
This is what we’re doing at Julienne Bruno. We are trying to create food that has layers of decision making which build flavour, so when people try our food they notice the difference.
When we started, we wrote two sentences on a whiteboard. “Don’t imitate; create” and “Don’t compare; enjoy.” This is our philosophy.
We don’t make ‘vegan alternatives’. The word ‘alternative’ implies that your first choice wasn’t available. That you’re trying to replicate the experience of eating another food. Our goal is always to create food that is your first choice because it tastes good.
We take inspiration, but never imitate. We’re always seeking to produce something new. So our superstraccia is inspired by stracciatella, our burrella by burrata and our crematta by cream cheese. But our process is unique to us. The flavour is unique to those products. We use real ingredients. We slow ferment soya beans to develop those natural, tangy flavours. And the end result is its own product, with its own distinctive flavour.
The superstraccia is my favourite. It goes in salads, sandwiches, or pasta. It goes on toast and pizza. It’s like a flavour amplifier, anywhere you want that creamy, lactic flavour. This morning I was eating it with a spoon.
Another range we are working on is our dry-aged vegetables - that are a new kind of product entirely. We have dry-aged butternut and dry-aged beetroot, inspired by the appearance and process of making salami - but a completely different experience in texture and flavour. We slow roast the vegetables to allow the juices to come to the fore. We dry age it for 10 to 15 days - a very long process in todays world of food creation (where everything is "make it ready NOW!") - and this is what gives it that rich and developed flavour. The end result is endlessly versatile. It has a firmness to it. It has a dryness to it. It has umami. You can slice it thin or cube it to add to sauces. It’s perfect on its own, as a cold cut to eat with your favourite wine. It’s great in sandwiches. But when heated, it releases those orangey oils, full of flavour. Use it as a pizza topping, for example, and taste those rich oils becoming part of the flavour of your pizza.
The food product market has just had a reset. Every brand that we grew up with - all these amazing products of our childhood - are now being veganised. Often by big corporations who are more interested in speed of product to market than the quality - just putting together ingredients and shipping them quickly.
Then there are companies like us. Companies that really value quality, good ingredients and taste. Taking their time. Producing good food in small batches. Not trying to replicate an existing like-for-like. Not creating an alternative, but a successor. For companies like us, plant-based gastronomy is a new world of possibility. An uncharted territory open to exploration, creativity, discovery and delight.
At Julienne Bruno, we want to create a set of products that people buy on a weekly basis. We want to be in people’s pantries, in their fridges, in their freezers, and to have a relationship with their day-to-day cooking. We want the new generation to grow up with our products in the same way that we grew up with products of the past. We want to be the favourite brand of someone’s childhood.
Food can create a cosy space where people have good memories. A lot of the time our best memories come from sitting down for a meal with a loved one, our family, a few friends, and sharing something special together. Good food plays a big part in amplifying those moments, and that’s something we can bring to the table.
We love food. We want to make food people love.