Homaru Cantu: More Designer Than Most Designers

C|Net has a fun question and answer article with food fabber and all-round off-the-wall chef, Homaro Cantu, someone I’ve mentioned previously on a couple of occasions (reLink). The piece, “For Chicago chef, it’s prepare, print, serve” (Link), describes quite a bit but stops short of the details many of us would probably like to know, but it’s still great reading. For desert, check out the accompanying gallery of images (Link).

Here are a some short excerpts to… whet your appetite:

The Cordon Bleu graduate has filed 16 patents and continues to tweak technologies through his skunk works, Cantu Designs. Lately, Cantu has been negotiating with big-brand stores to bring his multifunctional kitchen utensils to store shelves.

Cantu: We’re setting up a large product line in an undisclosed location. We’re talking to major publishers, like Gourmet, Fast Company, about sustaining edible ads for months and months on end. I think it’s going to revitalize the entire print ad market because it’s going to have instant consumer impact.

Let’s say I have an apple and I’m going to split it up into the basic building blocks…and put it into printheads, and I have the basic binary code to print food in physical form. We can print food in two dimensions from all-natural, all-organic ingredients. It might look very foreign, but so would Twinkies to a person 2,000 years ago.

We can create a third-world food replicator. All we need is a printer. We print an apple, essentially a replica of an apple from one picked at the peak of freshness. You can’t tell the difference between my apple that was transmogrified and the one that was picked. We can create stockpiles without having to worry about their shelf life.

I look at this more as an innovative product design and utilizing the restaurant as a test market.

Y’know, when I read what Cantu has to say, I can’t help but think to myself that more product designers would do well to follow his example instead of trying to cater to those left-brained people busy fitting the profession with a mental straight jacket. It’s pretty obvious this guy knows a hell of a lot more than how to cook, and something tells me he didn’t learn much of what he knows in culinary school or from the left-brain’d crowd.

If Industrial Designers expect to have everything they need to know spoon fed to them in an educational environment or explained to them by those who want to do little more than exploit the profession, they’d better think again. It ain’t gonna happen, nor should it. The only people looking out for Design are designers.

By the way, this comes close on the heels of my previous post (reLink) about Silverbrook’s new inkjet technology, so the obvious question is: Will Cantu launch a fast-food operation with that technology? Don’t be surprised.