Will you be printing the canapés at your next conference?

While the thought of a printed buffet may sound like something futuristic or out of a science-fiction movie, the reality is that the technology is already available – in fact 3D food printers are already in use in kitchens in over 90 countries around the world.

Speaking to Travel & Meetings Buyer, Lynette Kucsma, co-founder and cmo of Natural Machines, which created a 3D food printer called the Foodini, explains the concept in more detail.

“Foodini is a connected device, meaning it’s connected to the Internet. It has a built-in touch screen on the front that provides the user interface for printing food. Once the user chooses the recipe they want to print from the touch screen or a user’s device, Foodini will instruct what food to put in each capsule and then the printing can begin,” she says.

Foodini uses an open capsule model, which means that chefs prepare and place fresh ingredients into the appliance. The capsules are made of stainless steel and are re-usable. Print time depend on the ingredients, the recipe and the quantity of food being printed. Crackers and simple plate decorations are ready in a matter of minutes, while intricate chocolate sculptures would take around 20 minutes.

Where 3D food printers really shine is when it comes to making difficult, time-consuming dishes that require food shaping, forming or repetitive food assembly tasks. Says Kucsma, “Take an example of ravioli. Rolling out the dough to a thin layer, adding the filling, adding the top layer of dough, and then cutting it to size takes time. With Foodini, you’d simply load the dough and filling and it will print individual raviolis for you.” Examples of the type of food that works particularly well include burgers, quiches, pizzas, cookies, crackers, brownies and chocolate.

Kucsma says she seen a lot of interest from conferencing and event clients. “3D food printing offers unlimited options to personalise food to match the theme or décor of the event. Chefs are interested in Foodini for a few reasons, two of which keep coming up again and again: creating food presentations that aren’t possible by hand, and automation.”

She says it’s also likely to help manage dietary restrictions and nutritional issues. “For example, Foodini can print a dessert that stops printing when it hits 200 calories. Or in the future, you’ll be able to create customised food for individuals. For example, if I’m low on Vitamin D and Iron, I’ll be able to up those nutrient levels in my freshly printed breakfast bar.”

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