Class of 2022

Eneko Axpe

Science Innovators

35 / San Francisco, USA

The gastrophysicist on a quest for more sustainable food systems

Eneko Axpe’s path to the gastronomic industry is highly unusual. A physicist by training, he obtained a master’s degree in material sciences and a Ph.D. in physics. He was working for NASA developing biomaterials to prevent and treat spaceflight-induced bone loss in astronauts when a chance discovery led him down a different path. Learning that food production contributes around 37% of human-caused global greenhouse gas emissions, he became set on using his skills and knowledge to make a positive impact on the planet and combat climate change through food design.

Eneko’s work is all about developing sustainable alternatives to meat and other food products that have a negative impact on the environment. By applying physics to gastronomy, he has become a global leader in texture design, using his knowledge creatively in products such as cutlery and furniture made from mushroom mycelium, designed in collaboration with NASA. In 2019, he became the first physicist to join Beyond Meat, where his internship work focused on food textures to develop plant-based pork products. Two years later, he joined Impossible Foods, where he worked on multiple creative plant-based meat prototypes.

Joining forces with chef Eneko Atxa of World’s 50 Best restaurant and previous Sustainable Restaurant Award-winner Azurmendi, Eneko also co-founded Oraibi, a sustainability project that investigates the most polluting foods and researches new dishes and techniques to create a fully sustainable cuisine.

“Creating delicious food products out of food waste is an effective strategy to combat climate change.” – Eneko Axpe

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