3D Printed Chocolate, The Next Wave In Pastry Innovation?

In the reign of social media, our phones and feeds are constantly overflowing with our friends dining experiences. The idea of food being entertainment is not a new concept, but the images and content consumers are posting is a form of expression that has become as second nature as riding a bike. Whether you love it, or hate it, when you boil it down, every one of those individuals taking the time to take the photos are going to be the same group of people who tell every one of their friends about their meal days after they dined. For that reason, when Mona Lisa reached out to invite us to a product unveiling that would allow chefs a new way to connect with those same customers, we knew it would be something we’d have to report on.

*At the bottom of this article, we share data and predictions gathered from a trends expert, who gave a keynote presentation, prior to the product unveiling to provide a window into the direction the food service industry may be heading.

The unveiling would happen to be held at one of Spain’s most famous restaurants, Cellar de Roca. The Roca brothers have seen such success as holding a 3 Michelin star rating for years, as well as holding the title for the number one restaurant in the world in 2013 and 2015. Jordi, known as the brother most known for his exceptional work in pastry, was nominated as the world’s best pastry chef in 2014. His unique ability to take concepts, thoughts, ideas, or emotions and turn those into stories represented in food made him the perfect person for Mona Lisa to pair with on the project. A dish that would fully represent his artistry and approach would be the dessert, Scent of an Old Book, 2016. Jordi had literally taken a book and distilled that into a perfume that was used to flavor the dish.

For this project with Mona Lisa, Jordi would be tasked with giving life to his ideas that could be applied to their 3D chocolate printing innovations. At the unveiling, the dessert that he created took inspiration from none other than the ingredient used to make the 3D structure, chocolate, specifically, the cacao flower. Jordi, worked with a creative team to design a cacao pod that would encase a smaller cacao pod. The idea being that when warm chocolate sauce would be poured on the printed chocolate it would melt in a way that would allow it to open and blossom like a flower. As the chocolate decoration blossoms, it would slowly reveal the actual chocolate flowers that were hidden inside. This was a perfect example of how to express individual creativity while capitalizing on an experiential dessert trend that many diners are currently seeking.

Now the idea of 3D chocolate isn’t something that is necessarily new, but the innovation comes in the way it’s produced. By producing the decorations at their factories, this allows them to control the integrity and quality of the chocolate. As we got a chance to examine the decorations at the unveiling, the slim thickness of the decor was very impressive and almost seamless. For many of the personal 3D chocolate printers, you will use a thicker compound chocolate which not only effects taste, but makes the printing much more visible. The next unique advantage that Mona Lisa’s approach gives them is the ability to work with and collaborate with a designer. In the design process, the chef and designer will flush out the idea, allowing for the chef to conceptualize and rely on the expertise of Mona Lisa to execute the production.

Each approach you take with 3D printing will create its own unique set of challenges, and for Mona Lisa, that challenge will be the shipping and distribution. None of the creative work will matter if, you’re losing many of your beautifully designed decorations in transportation due to breakage and mishandling. Unfortunately, the answers we received regarding this topic were not directly addressed. In our minds, the way you ensure your custom products are arriving safely are with a custom packaging design, since the products will vary.

Considering all those details, the product innovation is something to get excited about. As the company scales, we would expect them to create more efficiencies on design time, product minimums, expanding the range of chocolates that can be used, all to allow the chef to adapt and meet more personalized demands. We’re curious about your thoughts, would you reduce chocolate decoration production in your kitchen to experiment with 3D printing?


Notes from the Trends Expert Keynote

  • In 2030, 2/3 worldwide people will live in cities.
    • Tokyo, Japan - 37.2 Million People
    • Delhi, India - 36.1 M
    • Shanghai, China - 30.8 M
    • Mumbai, India - 27.8 M
    • Beijing, China - 27.7 M
    • Dhaka, Bangladesh - 27.4 M
    • Karachi, Pakistan - 24.8 M
    • Cairo, Egypt -24.5 M
    • Lagos, Nigeria - 24.2 M
    • Mexico City, Mexico - 23.9 M
    • As the major cities of the world change, these cities will have more influence to what trends will be accepted culturally.
  • If you want a glimpse of what communication might look like in the future, look at how youth is communicating. The best to see an example of this right now is Tik Tok.
    • Tik Tok is owned by a Chinese company and the company’s influence plays a role in how people interact and express themselves on the platform.
    • As you look at younger demographics, people are looking for different ways to stand out and express themselves. Bright loud colors.
  • Single person households will increase by about 120 million by 2030.
  • Single transient lifestyle will drive more homes to be built smaller, portable, and furnished with rented furniture instead of purchased.
  • Individualized consumable products will become more popular like canned wine.
    • In 2017, canned wine’s dollar growth surged at a rate of 54% in the US.
  • By 2030, 1/4 of the global population will be Muslim.
    • Fashion and food sectors should expect to adapt to the growing market
    • Blockchain currency may allow for transparency for the halal market
  • By 2025, AI used in white-collar jobs is expected to reach a tipping point and about 30% of corporate audits will be performed by AI.
  • Craftsmanship will be more intertwined with technology and science.
  • Ordering will be done within apps

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