Concepts For A Digital Life... As A Chef
Marcelo Coelho and Amit Zoran, fellow PhD students at MIT's Media Lab are focused on designs for Digital Gastronomy. Digital Gastronomy for the chef... unless you don't happen to have another job. The three DG concepts that have been created by Coelho and Zoran so far are The Digital Fabricator, The Robotic Chef, and The Virtuoso Mixer....
Each of these futuristic gadgets performs a feat involved in combining foods and beverages in ways they have never combined before. The machines can create new tastes, new shapes, and new aesthetics to replace those that we've been seeing and eating for hundreds of years. What would a steak, potato, and salad taste like if they were all transformed and mixed together with some newly created spices?
Oh yeah! Digital Gastronomy can get far more interesting than steak and potatoes.
The Digital Fabricator
I'm sure you've already heard about a computer being able to print food. Well, here it is, right from Marcelo Coelho's design lab.
The canisters on top of The Digital Fabricator are refrigerated containers that keep foods at their ideal individual temperatures until the chef is ready to blend and/or cook them. Through the computer interface, you choose the foods you want to use to create the masterpiece. Those foods are piped into a mixer and extruder that cools or heats the food according to your digital directions and deposits it with precise accuracy in the form you design.
The Robotic Chef
Now this is the tool that achieves the fundamental transformation of one food at a time, like the banana it's holding in its robot claws. The Robotic Chef physically and chemically transforms a solid food object into your desired shape, texture, and flavor. It contains interchangeable 'manipulation devices,' including drill bits and laser diodes, but it has mineral and spice injection syringes, so you can control the flavor and nutritional value of the food.
The Virtuoso Mixer
When you want to experiment with a bunch of off-the-shelf foods, the go to gadget is The Virtuoso Mixer. The top layer holds the foods in 8 containers at their individual ideal temperatures, until you are ready to use them, when you can alter the temperatures individually. Through your digital portal, you select the foods you want to mix, the proportions, that drop into eight different mixing containers in the middle row. These containers are outfitted with a variety of mixing devices to create different consistencies. Once mixed, eight samples are extruded from the mixers onto heating or cooling elements.
I don't know if we'll ever see the Digital Gastronomy machines in our kitchens, but I hope some experimental restaurateurs adopt them. The kind of gastronomy this "cornucopia" could create would actually be worth $100 for dinner.