Today’s appetizer is printed in 3D: Interview with chef Jorge Ruiz of Makeat
The 3D technology linked to gastronomy is an explosion of culinary artistic creativity for chefs, because it’s possible to build elaborations as if they were true works of art, everything is a matter of imagination.
Caramel teaspoons, chocolate in the form of a giant starfish, puff pastry in form of a crab. Can you imagine a prawn with dessert flavor? Those are some of the preparations that can be created with the help of 3D printers. What is more, you can work with cooking techniques such as gelatinization, or spherification using molds, or a brand printed on an apple, or an olive with the logo of your corporation with a food laser cut.
«Makeat» is a digital manufacturing center dedicated to gastronomy, founded in Barcelona over a year ago by Juan Manuel Umbert Rosselló and Adrià Colominas i Bigorra. Both professionals joined their experiences, of the 3D design, equipment, and printers to the gastronomic field. And to this project, little by little, new professionals from different fields, of engineering, design, and gastronomy have been added, such as chef Jorge Ruiz.
Jorge Ruiz graduated from the first class of The Basque Culinary Center, the first faculty of gastronomy in Spain. He has gained experience by working in several restaurants, such as the prestigious Enigma of Albert Adrià, and companies related to the gastronomic sector, and even set up his own tableware company with one of his professors in college days. During his time in Enigma, he met the Makeat team. One year later, when his work period finished at the restaurant, he joined this project.
A few weeks ago, the company was in a 3D food masterclass sponsored by the MAGNA beer brand of San Miguel, in Madrid, they created a variety of snacks to accompany a beer at noon. One of the appetizers was a gelatinized peanut-shaped beer, filled with natural peanut, or 3D patatas bravas, some hop-shaped laser-cut potato chips with sauce brava. Everything was possible through 3D printed prototypes.
Many of us might think that food is printed, but Makeat has managed to make better use of the 3D printer by using molds, because it is a more effective way to use this technology. Why? Then, we tell you the reasons and the experience of Makeat, when they tried to create a restaurant with 3D printers. Besides, in this interview, Jorge Ruiz tells us about his work as a chef at Makeat, and how chefs or companies can use 3D for their culinary creations.
How did you get to know 3D technology?
The first time I saw 3D technology was at university, they were the Food Ink printers that extruded food, that is, you put mashed potatoes with a concrete formula so the machine, through the extrusion machine, gets 3D printed-food, but of course, once I arrived at Makeat, I saw that 3D technology is a totally different thing, because 3D technology that prints food is the least usable for reasons of time, price, volume.
That’s what you commented before, that it’s not profitable to print
Yesterday I was talking with Juan and Adri, the creators of Makeat, and they said that they worked with a person who tried to create a restaurant through 3D food printing and that the only experience that has been done in Barcelona was made by the two of them. And for a dinner of 12 people where there were 8 dishes, they started printing at 8 in the morning, and at 20:30 they were still printing desserts, 5 printers at the same time. The printers, which cost around € 6000 each, then, in the end, think that it’s almost 12 hours of food printing, plus electricity, plus the equipment that has to have the knowledge to use them. Then comes the time that to make dinner, I would need about sixty 3D printers to really go at a high pace to have dinner ready. When I arrived here I realized that in the end, it is much more interesting to make a 3D print with a type of corn filament, of the shape you want. From there, you obtain the silicone mold, and can be used to get the shapes that you want, because it may take 20 minutes to print a piece in 3D, another 4 hours to make the silicone mold, and from there, the silicone mold can be done with a quality with five or one hundred cavities, and make a hundred productions, it is much more mechanized.
So, that helps to let your imagination as a cook runs wild
Exactly, when I met the guys, the first time I entered the workshop, I told them that this is like Doraemon’s pocket, any chef who comes up in here and sees what there is, his head starts to come up with ideas, because the possibilities that you see in here, which have already been done, trigger your creativity. The intention we have is to work as an external department for everyone who needs it, we are working with individual projects, restaurants, industries, but at the same time we have our own lines in which we try to continue creating new things for us, so that, quote-unquote, we feel alive, we are an R&D.
And what is your role in the company? You told me that you try the creations. How is this?
Of all the things that are created in the company or the requests we have from the professionals, I am in charge of testing them before delivering them.
Can you give us an example?
If we create a thermoforming to make a chocolate bar, before we send it finished to the customer, I’m in charge of making some chocolate bars with that mold to know if it works or not, in case there is a small design and temperature flaw. I am like one more filter before it gets to the professional who has requested that project.
Another of the things I do, as I told you that we had lines of internal creativity, we are creating things that we come up with.
For example, we create a pumpkin-shaped mold, now that it’s Halloween. First, a pumpkin is printed with the 3D printer, from there we get a silicone mold. And as no customer has asked for that, but it is a creation for the holiday, it can be a striking product, so I’m in charge to verify if that silicone mold works. I create a dish, a dessert, using that material, and then upload it to social networks, to the website, and people notice that it is not only a mold but that it can be used and it works.
The molds, which you showed in Magna’s talk, were useful for the chocolate, for the puff pastry. Tell us a little about all those types of elaborations that can be done
We have several types of materials, with silicone, resins, thermoforming materials, each of them has specific qualities that already define the material or product that we will be able to use.
There are materials that do not support temperatures of more than 80º, because they can deform. For example, we know that material will never be able to work with caramel because when the caramel is melted exceeds 80º; nor can the material be used to ferment bread and bake it, because the bread oven is usually about 200º, so the material would not work. Knowing the qualities and the materials we work with, we already know what food products we can introduce, and from there, we help the chefs.
If you want to work to create bread with concrete shapes, we know that we are going to use the silicone that holds up to 200 degrees, then, if we put a dough of bread inside that silicone, and let it ferment inside to occupy all the cavities, and we bake it with the silicone, that bread will be baked with the shape of the silicone and when the baking is finished we will only have to remove the silicone and we will have the bread with the shape that was made.
Of course, I remember that the croissant mold was very interesting, the baker has to knead the dough to shape bread, however, with this mold, there is a great advantage. How does technology help in the kitchen?
This technology tries to solve and speed up processes, as far as possible. If you want to make a croissant as a puff pastry, you have to make the shape of the croissant because it is the baker’s movement that gives it the form. But, if with a croissant mold, we use a puff pastry or bread dough, we can bake it and shape it with this croissant mold, we will have a croissant, to call it somehow, or a croissant-shaped preparation without having to use all that process that the baker does.
Calculating how much time you save, if you do it manually and then, with the molds. Maybe more than saving time, it saves the workforce?
Exactly, it saves the workforce, that’s a hundred percent sure when you have to make perfect squares with apples. An example: it is clear that if you take an apple you have to peel it, cut it, you have to give it the shape, measure it, for this, you need tools, workforce and time to do it, if you already have a perfectly cut and measured 3D mold printed, to work as a die, you will only need one person to cut into sheets and another person using the die mold that we have customized for you, you will only have to cut the apple pieces, that speeds up all the processes as much as possible. One of the customers we currently have was looking to create a jelly mold with an inner cavity, the customer asked us to make a square mold, and they would empty the inner quantity with a spoon. But our goal isn’t giving that square mold, but creating a mold that already has that cavity, so once they receive the mold, there is already a perfect square jelly with the quality of the interior.
So, how much time would it take?
It depends on the customer if he wants to produce ten or a thousand, depending. It is not the same to work with jelly than to work with ice cream than to work with bread dough, because each one has different processing time: bread dough needs three or four hours or an entire fermentation night plus a baking time; jelly needs 10 minutes in a refrigerator, then, of course, depending on the type of customer, the aim.
What comes to my mind, when talking about 3D technology, is Jordi Roca’s ice cream in Rocambolesc, it has one that is very famous with the shape of his nose, although we do not know how that process was. How can it be done with this technology?
I don’t know the process of creation, but he will have made a mold from his nose to get the shape, and thus create, from there, silicone molds and start the production of Jordi Roca’s nose.
It also helps you with ice cream preparations. And in other preparations, such as spherification?
The spherification is a process that is done through a chemical process of alginate and calcium, when mixing two products and one is immersed in the other, you get that jelly film around one that keeps liquid inside. What we do is to provide molds so that what you put into the liquid to spherificate, already has the shape you want. That is, it is not only spherified with the typical spoon used in the spherifications, if we have a mold in the form of garlic, and you put it into a preparation with calcium, you freeze it, and then, when it is frozen, it becomes a sphere, you will have a spherical garlic.
And the gelatinization, the day we met at the MAGNA event of San Miguel, we looked at the presentation schedule and created a series of snacks to accompany a beer. And one of the creations was made with peanut molds, and we filled those molds with a MAGNA jelly, the beer, and inside we put peeled peanuts so that people could notice that with the mold you get a surface texture precisely like that of a peanut. That jelly is crystalline and you see the peanut inside, and that’s a bit the game of being able to make a hundred percent edible peanut.
As for sustainability, I think it is a great contribution to caramel spoons, I also imagine, forks, glasses. Can all this be done with this technology?
Yes, we are working with companies, including industries because a lot of waste is generated to get finished final products. For example, many bones and fruit skins are generated to extract juices, coffee grounds when people want coffee, then all that waste is organic, and then we always try to maintain a line of research in which we can try to reuse all those products and give it a new life, so to speak, but it is still a subject of research. At the same time, we teach in the talk, the chocolate ice cream teaspoons, which can also be made of caramel, we removed the plastic because you can eat the spoon.
The union of gastronomy and 3D printed prototypes are magical. You can create unimaginable forms, especially in the world of candy: chocolates, puff pastry, dough, caramel … Some chefs such as Ramón Freixa and Martín Berasategui, have already tried this digital cooking in Makeat.
Makeat is the first digital manufacturing center dedicated to gastronomy, located in Barcelona. Its objective is to take the sector to a new revolution, using design, creativity, and 3D technology.
If you really want to contribute knowledge and learn from the Makeat team, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
For consultancies and workshops, you can contact at
Address: Carrer de Pi i Gibert, 43, 08930 Sant Adrià de Besòs,