Science fiction and food don't often appear too appetizing. If cartoons have taught us anything, it's that tomorrow's meals will be limited to a vitamin-enriched goo or a solitary pill capsule.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Some of the greatest innovations in gastronomy and food service equipment indicate a future filled with intricate, science-driven feasts that will boggle the mind and satisfy the stomach.
The only problem is, not everyone can be an astounding chef. What if you can't even boil pasta? How are you going to manage? Here are three technological breakthroughs that can help your future self enjoy fabulous food without the hassle of culinary mastery.
"Machine-like accuracy brings a whole new meaning to the idea of design in the food industry."
In 2013 NASA awarded a $125,000 grant to Systems and Materials Research Corporation, which developed a way for astronauts to enjoy a wider variety of food in space using 3-D printing technology. According to Daily Tech, the device in question needed to overcome the challenges of long-term space travel, meaning the ingredients the printer used had to last between 15 and 30 years. As such, technicians removed traditional foodstuffs from the mix and instead substituted proteins with a more attractive shelf life. For instance, the creators' initial plans hoped to concoct ways these space travelers could munch on pizza using powders made from insects and algae.
Alright, maybe that might not ring your dinner bell, but printable food has plenty of terrestrial applications. Take for example the 3-D printed pancake. Tired of attempting to make your flapjacks look like cartoon mice? How about the Eiffel Tower instead? While a griddle might not be fertile ground for the highest culinary expression, the incorporation of machine-like accuracy brings a whole new meaning to the idea of design in the food industry. Who knows? In a few years, you might be able to upload your favorite shapes wirelessly to waffle makers.
The take-out button
Sometimes ordering out beats anything you could whip up for dinner. However, that would require you to actually place your order, right? Not necessarily.
Yahoo recently featured a refrigerator magnet that could place a pizza order. With just a simple click, a family could not only dine in from their favorite restaurant, but also track the progress on the digital display all the while.
This idea has the potential to change the way a customer interacts with take-out, not to mention how the food service industry interacts with its clients. The list of web-enabled devices brought on by the Internet of Things grows longer with each passing week. Nowadays, customers can simply place an order from their smartphones, but in a few years who knows what kinds of small, practically insignificant electronics your local eateries could produce. Perhaps a tie clip that could order Thai food?
No matter how you slice it, some people will refuse to give up on their dreams of becoming a great cook, one that doesn't print out cricket pizza or do Thanksgiving dinner through push-button delivery.
For those people, Nation's Restaurant News recommends smart cooking devices that can instruct you in real-time. These devices can store a number of different recipes and walk a would-be chef through each step, with simple controls and even notifications as to when particular ingredients should be added. Again, for the food service industry itself, technology like this could save time and money training new employees or reducing the adjustment period when a menu changes.
Hospitality and restaurant industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in food service equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.