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Food Articles

You Can Now Print Your Own Food

Jul 25, 2017

You Can Now Print Your Own Food


Sitting on the same sleepy corner of Melrose and Highland as the Jonathan Gold-dubbed Mozzaplex and an authorized Apple retailer, is a glass box housing multiple food printers—and their 3D landscapes— oscillating wildly on the screen of a damn PC. Alongside the computer and ultra-wide displays, sits William Hu lead food designer, trying to figure out the future of 3D-printed food.

While watching a $50,000 ChefJet work really inspires the imagination, at first, 3D-food printing provided us little beyond novelty. Much like a fondant-wrapped nightmare you might see on Cupcake Wars, 3D-printed food is “technically edible” and impressive, but you’re probably not salivating at the thought of a digital potato. After sampling some bites, it’s clear the technology is not quite perfected yet. The mouth-feel and flavors of the sweeter offerings resembles what a Bugle might taste like if dusted with an artisanal Pixie Stick, and structurally, everything is light as air with the fear that you could break the food simply by holding onto it for too long. Still, as William piped a cold, viscous, peanut butter cream into a crunchy, jelly-flavored cube, the unexpected combination of textures, flavors and temperatures opened our eyes to the infinite potential of this technology.

The chef and his team showed me an intricate absinthe spoon printed in sugar, meant to sit atop a glass and dissolve as the hallucinogenic spirit is poured over it, mimicking the traditional sugar cube method.  We saw an ornate square of onion powder, a deconstructed French onion soup concentrate, giving us hope for the more savory side of things.

Naturally, every technological advancement introduces a brand new set of problems. In recent times, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing foods or liquids) has become a growing problem as a result of modern medicine increasing longevity in humans, . A good amount of our old folks are now forced to eat their nutrients with a spoon, like baby food. Perhaps 3D-food printing will provide solid textures more enjoyable to swallow, or simply create liquid food that tastes like, well, food.

While we have reservations about 3D-food printing, new innovations historically have to overcome a laughable infancy to either fulfill its intended purpose or do something else completely. William mentioned nutrient injections, which is what excites us the most. Imagine buckling into your Google car after a hard day at the office, telling Siri you’re in the mood for Mexican, having your t-shirt scan your vitals to notice a B-12 deficiency, and being greeted at the door by a 3D-printed enchilada with guacamole, chock full of B-12. Maybe go easy on the Percocet black olive tonight—it’s a week day.

For more on the ChefJet printer visit the 3D Systems site + follow them on Instagram.