Ivan Berezutskiy is in the second-floor salon of Twins Garden, the restaurant he leads with his identical twin Sergey in Moscow, which recently won its second Michelin star. “And the next dish is 3D squid,” he announces.
This course – named ‘Science and Nature’ on the Rediscover Russia tasting menu – is what they believe to be the first plant-based soft-bodied mollusc creation fabricated with a 3D-bioprinter in Russia. The squid game has got a lot more serious – showing that 3D food printing (3DFP) is part of our present, not just the future.
The ethos behind this dish perfectly sums up the twins’ vision. While they run a 100-hectare farm in Pereslavl-Zalessky, where they cultivate ingredients such as salad leaves, berries and vegetables to create a seed-to-plate dining experience, the two-floor Moscow establishment also houses a laboratory. Here you’ll find the chefs throwing their spin on food tech, looking to understand and change the processes that occur with ingredients. “We want to delve into the world of food a little deeper than just frying fish in a pan as we’re interested in pushing the boundaries of the food world and looking to the future,” says Ivan.
The twins’ concept of 3D squid came about for one simple reason: overcoming allergies. Although, after developing it, they realised how important it could be with regards to sustainability. Ivan says: “Many people are allergic to seafood, including some of our regular diners. So we decided to prepare squid from alternative products, not in the form of some kind of minced stuff, but so that the dish really does resemble squid. We wanted to help those with seafood allergies to perceive not only the taste and aroma, but also its texture – that was the challenge. 3D-printing technology allowed us to reconstruct the shape of this sea creature and to reach maximum resemblance to the original.
3D printed quid, photo courtesy of Twins Garden
“In the future, we believe this technique will help us to minimise the amount of food waste and cook more conscientiously, because it’s the waste that we throw out every day that causes the greatest harm to the environment. We can print the exact amount of squid we need without overbuying or throwing anything away.”
The emerging technology of ‘printing’ squid is a baffling concept to many of us, and logically enough the development of this substitute product wasn’t without its challenges. Successful 3DFP ingredients include vegan beef, a project from Redefine Meat that Marco Pierre White recently got behind, while Belgian chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut has been enhancing cacao experiences with the world’s first such printing studio since 2020. In fact, according to the 2019-published Fundamentals of 3D Food Printing and Applications, 3DFP can be based on cereals, insects, fruits and vegetables, and dairy ingredients - basically everything and anything.
Initially approaching 3D Bioprinting Solutions with the bold idea of printing food that neither side had ever done before, together, the chefs and the printers developed a medium that would meet the criteria for 3D printing. Then the print team invented a special device that could roll off edible objects.
“There were a lot of problems,” says Ivan. “We didn’t understand how it would work, as it is rather difficult to reconstruct the taste, aroma, and even the texture of a product from a different material. We sorted out the taste of squid into different categories and, as a result, found the right ingredients. Squid is 80 percent water and 20 percent protein so we replaced animal protein with vegetable protein of white beans, and added water, salt and seaweed. There is nothing else in our squid. It might seem simple, but it took nine months to find the right product ratio.” The twins use that ‘special device’ today in the restaurant, a printing process that initially took 40 minutes but with experience now takes eight. “But we know that we can do it even faster,” adds Ivan.
Ivan and Sergey Berezutskiy, photo courtesy of Twins Garden
All squid is rolled out in the laboratory then prepped in the kitchen, where it is sautéed, revealing its taste and aromas. It’s been quite the success story with diners, many of whom are intrigued about what they are consuming.
Ivan says: “A year and a half ago, our plant-based squid was only available on our tasting menu, but today it has its place alongside seafood on the à la carte menu. It’s kind of a game — half the dish is made from natural squid protein, while the other half is printed bean squid. We sauté them together then serve ‘Squid and Beans’ [with cauliflower and black caviar] on the same plate. Appearance wise, they are very similar, and diners can then guess which is which. They like it a lot and it’s become one of the top sellers. The most frequently asked question is ‘Where were the beans?’ That motivates us to consider the development of this technology in the future.”
Besides addressing allergy issues, providing food waste solutions, reducing overfishing, the carbon footprint, and cooking more conscientiously, the twins also believe 3DFP gives consumers choice. “Printing will give people the opportunity to choose the products they need, present people with alternative dishes, and gastronomy will gain huge potential for developing and using endless possibilities of products,” says Ivan.