At the beginning of 2013 the Crossmodal Research Laboratory, an arm of Oxford University’s psychology department, published a report on the use of technology at the table.
The report, compiled by Charles Spence and Betina Fiszman, argued that we are quickly making way for technology in the world of gastronomy, explaining that tech is increasingly being used to affect a number of aspects of the dining experience. From enhancing flavour, to providing entertainment and offering more memorable experiences around food and drink.
It’s a trend we’ve been aware of for a long time at FDL and one that’s been popularised further by the launch of restaurants such as Ultraviolet in Shanghai and the Roca Brother’s multi-sensory dining experience, el Somni. A large number of the world's leading chefs have been working to create unique experiences with the help of technology and the latest to step into the mix is Andreas Caminada from the Schloss Schauenstein restaurant in Switzerland.
Caminda has teamed up with the video artist Peter Diem to create an exciting dining experience that explores the use of illumination through a set of speciality designed plates. Based on iPads, diners are given six different dishes, each one presented on one of Diem’s specially designed illuminated plates. Each plate plays a different video that acts to illuminate and animate the foods created by Caminada.
By playing with the way food is presented, Caminada and Diem hope to have an affect on how an edible experience is perceived. As Diem explains: “The right light can highlight the mastery of a chef and video can be used to weave information and emotions subtly into the food. If it’s possible to reach someone in this way, then that is what we should be doing. Working with cuisine will expand the sense-based repertoire massively. It will enable images to be internalised, in the truest sense of the word. I was excited by the idea of exploring and experiencing this depth effect.”
The menu makes way for dishes that follow a set of mysterious themes: Witchcraft, Alpine Huts, Sin, Heaven, Orchard, Solar Energy. A project that has certainly excited Caminada: “You look at the whole experience of dining differently when the food you are eating is illuminated. The finest of structures become visible, creating a new dining aesthetic."
Sin, for example, is displayed on a cross shaped illumination with a video that plays many colours - something sure to have an effect on the mood of the diner. The dish is made from a number of components including beetroot crisps, a beetroot jelly and gel, and a filleted fish that’s marinated in a complex herb and spice mix for 24 hours. Another, Alpine Huts, consists of edible miniature hut shapes placed on what appears to be a mossy, grass like texture. The feel of Alpine dining accentuated further by the use of ingredients directly from the Lumnezia Valley, including calf’s tail, smoked bacon and barley. Camida said the project made way for the creation of dishes that would have never been produced without the collaboration.
The use of light, colour, sound, sight and smell is playing a larger role across the dining sector as chefs look to mix disciplines and encourage the convergence of art, technology and gastronomy. Diem argues that animations, lighting and video will become a regular occurrence in our daily life, and, for now at least, he seems excited by this bright future. “Clothing, rugs and plates etc - fitted with lights will already be taken for granted in a decade. Animated images will accompany our every turn and innovative chefs will know how to make the most of these new possibilities”.