The Notorious Nooch Co. based in the UK manufactures its product, with more B12 than any other on the market, in France and has hit the shelves in several big-name shops.
A trio of friends came up with the idea after realising that while deactivated yeast offered a nutty and savoury flavour and has been a store cupboard favourite for non-meat eaters, the vast majority of existing products didn’t offer anything exciting in the way of flavours and certainly didn’t replicate the meat and dairy flavours now being offered by Notorious Nooch.
The team, made up of Steve Wildish, Sam Fresco and Jake Allnutt had been eating yeast by the spoonful in their office but they wanted to come up with something more interesting and looking at what was currently available, it inspired them to do something different.
Sam said: “We really wanted our product to be a delicious, nutritious addition to food – adding it to classic dishes means you can make the most amazing macaroni cheese and you can add it to salads as a topping. The bacon flavour is similar to adding bacon bits that you often find at salad bars.
"Also, you can sneak it into the cinema and put it on your popcorn for extra flavour. We had tubs of it in the office and we were eating so much of it, we would be walking past the tubs and just sticking our spoons in – it’s tasty and the point of it is that it is good for you too and packed full of B vitamins.”
It was in December 2021 that a biotech unit under Lesaffre, a French fermentation giant and the world’s biggest yeast manufacturer unveiled their yeast protein for plant-based meat and cheese alternatives which is who the trio teamed up with.
Each 5 g serving contains 282% of the nutrient reference value of vitamins B1, 225% of B2, 109% of B3, 257% of B6, 300% of B12 and 63% of B9 nutrient reference value of which the body gets rid of what it does not need.
Sam added: “We did make it out to France to meet our production team which was great – we had some fun with flavours – some of them worked and some of them didn’t but it was good trying out some new ones and to taste onsite and see how it all came together.
"I came up with a couple of ideas like pizza flavour and salt and vinegar and they didn't really work but at least we were able to try. It made such a difference being at the plant rather than them sending us samples in the post."
“Other yeast is nutty with a savoury flavour and that’s why it has been a vegan essential for some time, but the taste of these products has become a little bit boring with no variety and I guess makes life a little boring for those following a plant-based diet. It was this that got us really thinking about flavourings.”
Nooch is now certified by the VeganSociety and labeled kosher by KLBD, the products are organic, gluten-free, GMO-free and soy-free.
Sam said that Steve, who has written a book “How to Vegan” was particularly curious and did a lot of research into how versatile the yeast could be. After calling upon the help of the production team, they taught the founders that the number of times nutritional yeast is toasted determines the strength of the overall flavour.
The brand has currently released two products, Smokey Bacon, Super Nooch and Cheesy Immature, both developed by toasting yeast flakes in order to provide a naturally smoky flavour to the product. Notorious Nooch’s label consists of less than five ingredients.
Sam said: “Originally we were thinking about releasing different strengths of cheesy yeast but then we thought ‘what’s the point in a mild one’ and so we just stuck to the cheesiest flavour we could.”