Waffles baked up in perfect geometric configurations, as intricate and unique as snowflakes. Smoothies created with perfectly portioned nutritional ratios. Sustainable ingredients like algae and duckweed harnessed for consumption to make your favorite dishes better for the environment.
This isn’t the future of food, it’s the here and now — brought to you by the power of 3-D printing.
3-D printing works through a process known as additive manufacturing, in which layers of material are deposited on top of one another, over and over at dizzying speeds, to create an endless variety of designs. Its influence is already known in fields such as construction, where it can transform concrete, wax and other sprayable or castable materials into remarkably affordable homes and buildings; and in the automotive industry, where its unique applications for nylon, steel, photopolymer and resins is revolutionizing the cars we drive.
But there’s no limit to what a 3-D printer can make. The emergence of edible powders, gels, sugars and doughs has brought the culinary world into 3-D printing’s creative sphere, which means that 3-D printing is not just about design anymore. It’s also about being delicious.
There are even restaurants that rely exclusively on 3-D printers, such as Food Ink, a futuristic culinary funhouse in London where everything — from the menus to the cutlery to the food itself — is produced by a 3-D printer. Melisse, a bistro in Santa Monica, California, serves its French Onion soup with a 3-D printed crouton, using an onion-flavored powder to create an intricate crunchy wrapping for a ball of creamy burrata cheese. At La Enoteca, a Barcelona institution, guests line up to taste the Sea Coral, an intricate plate of seafood puree, caviar, hollandaise, egg and carrot foam, whipped into fantastical shape by the Foodini 3-D printer. Both Melisse and La Enoteca have multiple Michelin stars.
Here’s a look at the many parameters of this revolution on a plate.