Published on Monday, 06 January 2014 00:00
It's something that Gordon Ramsay will definitely frown upon and will most probably result in him letting out a string of cuss words. Introducing the Foodini 3D printer that allows you to print out your own meal without the hassle of cooking! That's right! Fancy having a three-course meal from the comfort of your home? Just print it out!
Lynette Kucsma, whose company Natural Machines plans to have the food printer on sale in the British market by the middle of this year, likened the new invention to be as revolutionary as the microwave oven.
“This is much more than just a gimmick,” Lynette says. “The last revolution in the kitchen came with the microwave — we believe that the Foodini could be about to transform the preparation of food to the same extent.”
Tom Rawsthorne about to tuck in to his three-course Foodini 3D meal
The extraordinary idea might take a while to be digested in more ways than one, but the company strongly believes that it is set to change the way we prepare food for ever!
The Foodini is simple to operate – just tap in your choice of food on a touch screen, then sit back, relax and watch as the machine prints out your food by carefully squeezing out a substance in a pattern.
No mess, no trouble and no cleaning up to worry about!
The machine's ability to exactly replicate complicated designs also gives it other unexpected advantages over traditionally prepared food.
“I have two children aged five and three who aren’t keen on their greens,” explains Lynette, who previously worked in Microsoft’s marketing and PR department. “So I took the machine home and printed them a spinach quiche. I did it in the shape of a dinosaur for my son and a butterfly for my daughter. They loved it and ate it all up. It had the same ingredients as a quiche that they normally wouldn’t touch, but the different shape was a game changer.”
Tom waiting for his hamburger to printed out
Like all other 3D printers that have been introduced, the manufacturers have all promised that the printers will change life as we know it. 3D printers have successfully printed cars, guns, and scientists are currently experimenting with stem cells, raising the prospect that in the future, organs could be printed off for patients awaiting a transplant. The technology has already been used to build and install arteries, ears, teeth and even windpipes.
3D printers work on the basis of creating objects by laying down layer after layer of metal, plastic, or whatever material required, and the Foodini works on the same principle.
The 3D food printer that is scheduled to be launched some time soon in Britain is roughly the size of a microwave oven and costs £835 (SGD$1,753). Its sleek design hides all the unsightly working parts, but allows users to be able to look in and watch as the ingredients are automatically pumped through the nozzle.
The shapes and patterns it forms and the quantity emitted can all be controlled by a computer. The Foodini can hold five capsules, each potentially containing a different ingredient (in the same way as a normal printer contains different colored ink), and as and when each ingredient is needed, the computer automatically switches from one capsule to another and pumps the contents out through the nozzle.
Desserts printed out
While the Foodini might make your life easier by helping you prepare your food, it does not cook nor assemble it. You will still have to get up off your ass and bake, boil, or fry it before consuming.
Initially, the producers of Foodini was toying with the idea that anyone buying the Foodini would only be able to purchase the food capsules pre-packaged with ingredients, which they would then insert into the machine. However, after deeper consideration, they decided that it would be better to allow users to load their own fresh ingredients into the machine's capsules at home.
Lynette explains how the concept evolved: “One of the company’s co-founders, Rosa Avellaneda, owns a bakery in Barcelona,” she says. “Rosa realised that a lot of the cost in a traditional bakery is to do with manufacturing and distribution.”
“Raw materials account only for 20 per cent of the cost of the final product. So that was where the original idea for Foodini came from — we would sell the machine and the capsules that went with it, aiming particularly at the cake and sweet market.”
But it was apparent that if the capsules were pre-packaged, they would have to be loaded with preservatives to give them shelf life. Lynette and her partners in the business were not keen on this. Because while the machine is undeniably high-tech, they have always wanted it to be part of the home-cooking, healthy-eating movement.
“Making your own food is obviously better, but it does require more time from you in the kitchen compared with opening a bag or box of something processed, frozen or already prepared,” she says. “Foodini takes on those parts of preparing food that are hard or time-consuming to make by hand, and which you may otherwise tend to buy as a 'convenience' food.”
“One of our goals is to streamline some of cooking’s more repetitive activities — forming dough into breadsticks, or filling and forming individual ravioli — to encourage more people to eat healthy, home-made meals. You prepare the fresh ingredients and load them into Foodini’s food capsules and watch Foodini print your chosen recipe.”
Already, the Foodini has a long queue of eager customers waiting to lay their hands on the unconventional kitchen device from over 30 countries. Lynette divulged that some of these people include individual consumers at home, Michelin-starred chefs, and people who want to set up restaurants selling only 3D printed food.
Would this be a “HELL YES” or a “HELL NO” or a “...maybe...” from you? On one hand, it would make preparing food for parties a lot more easier and less time-costly, but on the other hand, it does not really look all that appetizing does it?