Friday, August 21, 2009

Creative cooking

Aside from using printers, Cantu is developing new ways of cooking food. He plans to buy a class IV laser, the type normally used in surgery or welding, to create "inside-out" food. By using the laser to burn a hole through a piece of meat, steaks will be seared in the centre and be more rare towards the edges. Bread can also be "baked" in this way, with crusts in the middle and soft dough outside.
But in addition to preparing food in unconventional ways, Cantu is thinking of innovative ways to make a trip to the restaurant a different experience. He takes his inspiration from experience design, which involves creating something with the process, rather than only the product, in mind. It concerns involving the "users" in the entire life cycle - for example having the food experience start from the time a person enters the restaurant until they take their last bite. Cantu is also focussed on combining purpose with aesthetics and tries to understand what makes other media successful. Perhaps what people enjoy from the theatre or using a web site can be incorporated into the experience of eating out.

Stove-top or printer?

Perhaps Cantu's greatest innovation at Moto is a modified Canon i560 inkjet printer (which he calls the "food replicator" in homage to Star Trek) that prints flavoured images onto edible paper. The print cartridges are filled with food-based "inks", including juiced carrots, tomatoes and purple potatoes, and the paper tray contains sheets of soybean and potato starch. The printouts are flavoured by dipping them in a powder of dehydrated soy sauce, squash, sugar, vegetables or sour cream, and then they are frozen, baked or fried.

Futuristic Food

Using ink-jet printers and lasers in the kitchen may seem like a futuristic vision but at Moto restaurant in Chicago, it's already a reality. Its chefs, who are also engineers, are transforming the traditional dining experience by using inventive technology to create their food and to provide diners with an interactive, multi-sensory experience. Tired of steak and a plate of vegetables? The philosophy of the restaurant is to push the boundaries of known taste, texture and technique and to change the way that people perceive and eat food.