3D Printing Comes To Foodservice

The Lempert Report
October 06, 2016

And not just for food, but furniture and cutlery. And where else? But across the pond in a London pop-up Mediterranean cuisine restaurant called Food Ink.

According to ZD Net, for three days and three special meals, Food Ink took up temporary residence in a Shoreditch side street to showcase the versatility of 3D printing. During the day, the article says, the pop-up was open as a exhibition space for the 3D technology, where the public could see 3D printers and pens at work, and try some 3D printed snacks. At night, the pop-up became boutique restaurant, where 10 diners per sitting paid over £250 (or $331.66 US) a head for a nine-course menu, printed during the meal while they watched. 

Antony Dobrzensky, Food Ink's cofounder and director, said that "since I was a kid I was always interested in science fiction, and where I'm coming from today is really about blurring sci-fi and reality, and 3D printing connects to a lot of people because of that. I began exploring the idea of doing something with 3D printing that could connect to the public and I came to the conclusion that food, the universal language... was probably the best way to bring what is otherwise an exotic, intimidating, confusing subject to the mainstream." 

The menu created by Joel Castanye and Mateu Blanch, chefs at the Catalan restaurant La Boscana, and featured dishes including Cosmic Delight and Tetris Tapas. The two chefs said they wanted to capture the flavors of the fruits and vegetables of Catalonia in 3D printed form – but they had to taste great.

They began with experiments with chocolate, before progressing onto using foods like hummus whose textures lend themselves to being 3D printed. 

Food Ink's Dobrzensky says the pop-up restaurant will be “popping” up in more cities in the coming months: Amsterdam, Rome, Barcelona, and Berlin in the fall, then making its way to New York before the end of the year. He hopes to eventually open a chain of 3D printing concept-dining spots, in the model of themed chains like the Hard Rock Café, or Dans Le Noir.

The technology is new and expensive, but knowing Silicon Valley a new fast foodery might be on the horizon soon. Who will be first? Pizza 3rd Hut? TacoBell3? 3DMcD’s?