Vegan food brand Wicked Kitchen just secured $20 million in a new funding round with a little help from Woody Harrelson. The actor was part of a round that also included Ahimsa VC (a fund that invests in startups that focus on sustainability and health) and NRPT (a leading food producer in Thailand).
Wicked Kitchen was founded in 2018 by New England-born chef brothers Chad and Derek Sarno, who created the brand to deliver culinary-forward vegan products to consumers in multiple categories such as ready-to-eat meals, dressings, meat alternatives, desserts, and more.
While the brand initially launched in the United Kingdom at Tesco stores—where Derek Sarno serves as executive chef and Director of Plant-Based Innovation—it made its way to the United States last year by way of major retailer Kroger.
The new investment will help the brand—which has more than tripled its year-over-year sales—further accelerate its growth. “I have known Chad and Derek for many years and have been impressed by their wicked creativity in the kitchen and that they are not afraid to push the boundaries,” Harrelson said in a statement.
“What I love about this brand is that the products are actually created by chefs that always put flavor first, making it so easy to go plant-based,” Harrelson said.
Harrelson previously worked with the Sarnos on various projects, including the docu-series Wicked Healthy World and their plant-based book The Wicked Healthy Cookbook.
The new $20 million funding builds upon $14 million Wicked Kitchen raised last year to support its international expansion.
Wicked Kitchen grows vegan food empire
Earlier this month, Wicked Kitchen announced its acquisition of Good Catch Food’s North American business. This vegan seafood brand was created by the Sarnos in 2019 and has gained retail distribution for its frozen and shelf-stable vegan seafood across the United States and Canada. Its vegan fish products have been featured on menus at chains such as Long John’s Silver.
This coming together of the brands unites the Sarno brothers’ joint mission of transforming the food system to be more sustainable and compassionate with their restaurant quality plant-based foods that can be easily enjoyed at home.
Products in the Wicked Kitchen set include meal kits that span from Shiitake Ramen to Crackin’ Coconut Korma; comforting meal pots such as Mac & Peas and Vegetable Paella; a slew of pizzas made with grandma Sarnos’ special sauce; and ice cream pints, bars, and novelties made from a unique-to-market lupini bean base.
Currently, Wicked Kitchen is distributed in 6,500 retail locations in the US which, in addition to Kroger, includes 7-Eleven stores (where its noodle cups are on shelves at 2,000 locations); 1,250 Walmart stores; and Giant Stores (which stocks 32 Wicked Kitchen products, the largest set of plant-based products at a single retailer to date.)
With Good Catch and $20 million in additional funding, Wicked Kitchen is moving full steam ahead. “During this high growth phase, it is validating to have support from additional investors who believe in our mission and in the future of plant-based foods,” Pete Speranza, Wicked Kitchen CEO, said in a statement.
“This latest round of funding will help us go faster to expand our offerings in the US and abroad and it puts us in a well-poised position as we continue to lead plant-based innovations with flavor-forward products that appeal to vegans and omnivores alike,” Speranza said.
Outside of the UK and US, Wicked Kitchen recently launched 23 products at top retailer S-Market in Finland and is entering Thailand with 17 products through major retailers Tops Market and Central Food Halls.
Wicked Kitchen is also a proud supporter of Support + Feed, a food security initiative created by Maggie Baird (mother to musical artists Billie Eilish and Finneas) to which the company has provided 100,000 plant-based meals to date.
Is Woody Harrelson vegan?
Harrelson’s investment in Wicked Kitchen aligns with his own vegan lifestyle, which he has been vocal about for more than 30 years. Harrelson previously invested in other vegan brands, most recently Abbot’s Butcher, a plant-based meat brand that makes pea protein-based chicken, beef, and chorizo.
The 61-year-old actor is also outspoken about how animal agriculture is fueling the climate crisis and previously teamed up with fellow vegan Eilish on a Greenpeace video called “Our House Is on Fire,” to raise awareness around the issue.
And Harrelson has also helped other actors go vegan, including Sadie Sink—known best for her role as “Mad Max” in hit Netflix series Stranger Things. After following a vegetarian diet for one year, Sink decided to go vegan after she worked with Harrelson on the 2017 film The Glass Castle. Other actors have also been inspired to change their diets after working with Harrelson, including Liam Hemsworth and Thandie Newton.