Everybody seems to be looking for the next great food frontier – and Food Ink may have found the way to marry the needs of foodies and techies into a delicious, or at least unique, meal. The company's pop-up series of 3-D-printed dining experiences is making its way around the world.
For three nights in July, Food Ink offered a 3-D-printed nine-course meal in London. Before you start thinking food designed and printed by geeks will taste like a box of mac and cheese, think again. The creations out of this high-end, concept kitchen are the work of chefs Mateu Blanch and Joel Castanye, who run the Michelin-starred restaurant La Boscana, in Spain. The chefs do, of course, work with other disciplines. In fact, the Food Ink website calls the process a collaborative experience "where fine cuisine meets art, philosophy, and tomorrow's technologies."
Food Ink co-founder Antony Dobrzensky explained the process in an article for Digital Trends, "It's the same principle as a pastry chef using a pastry bag to ice cakes. Puréed ingredients are extruded and vertically stacked into the three-dimensional molds from digital files. In this case, the bag is squeezed and guided by the robotic arm of the 3-D printer with a level of precision that's beyond what a human can do." (See the printers in action in the video above.)
For the pop-ups, chefs create food paste that, frankly, looks a little like baby food, and pop it into a syringe that's the plugged into a printer, like an ink cartridge. The printer extrude the food paste into layers, building up 3-D deliciousness. The London items had names such as air caviar, Caesar's flower of life, mystic prawns and 3-D Boscana.
Printing wasn't the end of prep. The food at the London restaurant was baked, fried or cooked in other ways before being served to guests who sat on printed furniture, ate with printed utensils and paid dearly for the privilege – 250 pounds (approximately $325).