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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Moto Restaurant: Incredibly Edible

    A few weeks ago I visited Chicago. The night I landed, I hit up the first sign of food without any forethought, ending up at Moto Restaurant. Hungry and desperate for something to eat, I asked the waiter for the menu. When I told him that I could eat an elephant there and then, he said I could start with the menu. I asked him to clarify, to which he responded, ‘the menu is edible!’

    In downtown Chicago, Chef Homaru Cantu, a self-taught engineer by profession, runs the Moto Restaurant. Cantu, who is 29 years old, has innovated some of the most futuristic food.

    Cantu has invented the Canon i560 printer, or the ‘food replicator,’ in his nerdy Star-Trek manner. The printer cartridges are filled with food-based ink, so the printer prints flavored images onto edible paper. Some of the inks I tasted were juiced carrots, purple potatoes, and tomatoes on paper that was made from soybeans and potato starch.

    The printouts are flavored in a powder of dehydrated soy sauce, squash, sugar, vegetables or sour cream. After flavoring, they are frozen, and then either baked or fried. As for the menu, it tastes like it is. When I ate a picture of a cow, I tasted filet mignon. The waiter recommended that I dump the menu into a bowl of soup after I had sampled all of it.

    The best part about the restaurant is the ambience. Their minimalist d’eacute;cor and the range of warm whites, chocolate and cinnamon will appeal to anyone. The menu is also regionalized, so if your taste buds salivate only to certain regional foods, Moto has it. There are Italian entrees, French options, and the chef is willing to improvise. After all, he is an innovator!

    I would recommend the two-dimensional sushi, which is made of photos of maki rolls sprinkled on the back with soy and seaweed flavoring. Some other things to look out in the grand meal are the nitro sushi roll, the rabbit with aromatic utensils and the synthetic champagne that the Chef will let you make. Lay aside your doubts about the food being edible, because not only will you eat it, but also lick your fingers.

    The only complaint I have is the price of the food. A 5-course meal will not fill you because it’s half the size of a non-futuristic 5-course meal. And, it costs $65. A 10-course meal will cost you $100, will fill you, and will be worth your money.

    The last I heard from the restaurant owners, Chef Cantu plans to buy a class IV laser, which is usually used in surgery or welding. He wants to create ‘inside-out’ food. By using the laser to burn a hole through a piece of meat, steaks will be seared in the center and be more rare towards the edges. Bread can also be baked in this way, with crusts in the middle and soft dough outside.

    Chef Cantu is also developing a full course that floats. Apparently, he starts with a cube made of a special kind of silicone. He imbues it with various aromas in a smoker. The waiter holds it above the table, spins it and releases its fragrance. The material contains air pockets, so it soon becomes lighter than air as heat seeps in, and it remains suspended for a short time.

    Cantu is out to revolutionize cooking. His work is not simply a hobby. He works with a company called deepLABS, and he relies on their weekly design meetings with aerospace and mechanical engineers. He has 30 patents already, including one for a cylinder that carbonates solid food, and one for a pressurized polymer box that steams fish right in front of your eyes. If it weren’t for the quality of his food and his restaurant, I wouldn’t know so much about him. If you don’t believe me, go visit!

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