Amit Zoran and Marcelo Coelho a couple of whiz kids over at MIT have this latest cooking technology concept, The Cornucopia which consists of three different designs – The Virtuoso Mixer, The Robotic Head and The Digital Fabricator. Each one addresses a fundamental process that lies at the heart of cooking, namely the mixing of ingredients, the physical and chemical processing of these ingredients into new compounds, and finally their modeling into aesthetically pleasing and delectable textures and shapes.

The Digital Fabricator is a personal, three-dimensional printer for food which works by storing, precisely mixing, cooking and depositing layers of ingredients. Its cooking process starts with an array of food canisters, which refrigerate and store a user’s favourite ingredients. These are piped into a mixer and extruder head that can accurately deposit elaborate food combinations with sub-millimeter precision. While the deposition takes place, the food is heated or cooled by the Fabricator’s chamber or the heating and cooling tubes located on the printing head. This fabrication process not only allows for the creation of flavours and textures that would be completely unimaginable through other cooking techniques, but, through a touch-screen interface and web connectivity, also allows users to have ultimate control over the origin, quality, nutritional value and taste of every meal.

The Virtuoso mixer is a machine composed of a three-layer rotating carousel that provides cooks with an efficient way to mix multiple ingredient changes and experiment with subtle differences in taste and composition. At the top layer, eight containers that can be filled with off-the-shelf ingredients and are outfitted with weight scales, as well as temperature and humidity sensors for monitoring the properties and quantity of food they contain. The middle layer houses eight mixing containers with several types of crushing and mixing devices. The final, lower layer, functions as an extrusion tray where the final ingredient mixture is deposited. It is outfitted with an array of thermoelectric heating and cooling elements and an insulating glass cover for quickly baking and modifying the temperature of the produced mixtures. The final digital recipes can eventually be saved, shared with other machines or users, or be simply retrieved by the same machine for the future preparation of a meal.

The Robotic Head is a mechanical arm designed to physically and chemically transform a single solid food object, such as a steak, fish or a fruit. It allows for two types of transformations: localized and precise manipulations performed with an array of tools located in the toolhead; and global transformations performed through the underlying bed and two 5-degree of freedom robotic arms. The toolhead holds an array of interchangeable handling devices, such as a drill bit, mineral and spices injection syringes, and a lower power laser diode, which can programmatically cut, cook and spice the food held by the arm. The underlying bed houses a heating plate which can heat and cook the food while the arm can apply mechanical transformations, such as compressions, elongations, and torsion, as well as control the location of the food underneath the toolhead. These transformation processes allow cooks to exert highly localized and repeatable food manipulations that would be impossible to achieve through traditional cooking methods.