A mind-bending photo from Modernist Cuisine, which gave a presentation at Bite about its tech-forward approach to food. Photo: Modernist Cuisine
This past weekend’s Bite conference in Silicon Valley was an intriguing look at the rich and vibrant intersections between food and technology. Yahoo Food was on hand to document the many demos, talks, and (of course) tastings.
From nitrogen-frozen ice cream to meat-free meat, there was a lot to see and taste. Suffice it to say we’re pumped about what the future will bring: Food technology has the ability to transform not just the cooking lives of kitchen-minded consumers, but the everyday lives of underprivileged people around the world.
Weren’t able to attend? Here are the highlights:
1. Smitten Ice Cream
Turns out that high tech and ice cream are a perfect pair. Photo: smittenicecream/Instagram
The team at Smitten whipped up instant batches of its smooth, creamy strawberry ice cream for the Bite audience all weekend, thanks to its patented Brrr machine.
The gadget, which relies on super-cold nitrogen to flash-freeze fresh ingredients, was developed by founder Robyn Sue Fisher after two years of tinkering. For inspiration, she looked to the mechanisms inside snow plows and airplanes, which led to the design of Brrr’s two DNA-like helical stirrers.
Sous vide cooking doesn’t have to be intimidating. Photo: Nomiku
Nomiku is first immersion circulator designed for the home cook, which means that it’s straightforward to use and easy to master. Representatives were on hand at Bite to show it in action.
The gadget, which can be attached to a normal pot, circulates and heats water to a precise, consistent temperature. It’s great for perfect sous vide cooking, in which food is tightly sealed and cooked for long periods in a water bath heated to a low, steady temperature. Good thing for consumers, at $199 Nomiku is a fraction of the cost of a traditional sous vide machine.
3. Beyond Meat
Tacos, anyone? Photo: Beyond Meat
Billing itself as “The Future of Protein,” this Manhattan Beach, Calif., company wants to reduce the world’s meat consumption by 25 percent by 2020. Visitors to the conference could try two of Beyond Meat’s products: The Beyond Beef Crumbles, made into a taco, and The Beastly Sliders.
4. Kite Hill
Who needs dairy? Photo: light_journal/Instagram
Kite Cheese handed out samples of two new products — a ricotta cheese and a cream cheese — both made from almond milk. You’d be hard-pressed to tell they’re not made with traditional dairy.
5. Pico Brew
Beer brewing at home just got easier. Photo: gr8fermentation/Instagram
PicoBrew CEO Dr. Bill Mitchell was on hand to show off the automatic at-home beer system, which takes care of the technical side of brewing.
The $1,999 machine connects to the Internet, so you can monitor your sudsy creations from the comfort of your PicoBrew app or computer.
6. Roy Choi
The Loco’l burger. Facebook: Loco'l/Facebook
Food truck pioneer Roy Choi is months away from opening Loco'l, a venture that will bring healthy, inventive fare with a fast food price tag to underprivileged and underserved neighborhoods. The first locations? The Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles and the Tenderloin area in San Francisco.
“We really do believe that there’s a better way to feed people,” Choi said during a presentation at Bite. “Loco’l is a fast food restaurant restaurant run by the best chefs in the world,” which include famed chefs Chad Robertson (Tartine Bakery), Daniel Patterson (Coi), and Rene Redzepi (Noma, MAD Symposium). Together, they’re figuring out “how we get umami if we’re only charging $4 for it.”
The answer? They hope it’s Loco’l’s centerpiece offering, a burger with a patty that’s 30-percent grain and 70-percent beef. It’ll be served on toasted a rice bun with charred scallion relish, jack cheese, and an emulsified sauce of tomatoes, chili, lime juice, and fermented chili paste.
7. José Andrés
Several solar cookstoves were used to prepare a taco feast at Bite. Photo: bitesv/Instagram
Celebrated chef Jose Andrés was the culinary chair of Bite and a significant presence throughout the entire weekend. On Saturday, Andrés, UC Berkeley professor Kirk Smith and Yahoo Food Editor-in-Chief Kerry Diamond talked about the issue of clean cookstoves.
A staggering 3 billion of the world’s population rely on dangerous cooking fires and rudimentary stoves to prepare their daily meals. Four million of them — mostly women and children — die a year due to exposure from the toxic smoke produced by burning wood, coal, and biomass like animal dung and crop waste.
Chef José Andrés thinks the solution could be solar-powered stoves, which would not only save lives, but fundamentally them them for the better. He’s tackling the issue through a number of initiatives in Haiti with the help of his “action oriented” World Central Kitchen nonprofit.
8. Hampton Creek
You’d never know this mayo is completely egg-free.
This maker of eggless mayo and cookie dough is said to be the fastest growing food company in America today. It’s raised more than $90 million in funding and has secured deals with everyone from the Dollar Tree to Whole Foods. The company gave out samples of its products all weekend, and CEO and founder Josh Tetrick gave an impassioned talk about his mission to completely change the processed food system.
9. 3D Systems
Yeo, this is made of sugar. Photo: Kerry Diamond
Neon sugar cubes in all different shapes and vividly decorated sculptural fondant cake toppers were on display at the 3D Systems table. The company was highlighting the work of the 3DS Culinary Lab and showing what’s possible with its ChefJet Pro. The professional grade culinary printer is expected to hit the market in 2016.
10. Modernist Cuisine
We all scream for (modernist) ice cream. Photo: Modernist Cuisine
Modernist Cuisine head chef Francisco Migoya gave a presentation about the work being done by the lab/think tank/publishing house, which is famous for its five-volume set of books that demystifies molecular gastronomy techniques. He dissected some of Modernist’s signature dishes, including a centrifuged peas and pistachio ice cream made entirely of pistachio oil. He also talked about the much-anticipated bread book coming from Modernist Cuisine in the near future.
11. Ugly fruits and vegetables
Just because this carrot isn’t “perfect” doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious. Photo: uglyfruitandveg/Instagram
There’s a movement afoot to be less precious about the perfection of the produce we eat: There’s no reasons to discard a vegetable just because it’s slightly bruised or misshapen. The subject was a big topic of conversation on the first day of the Bite conference, as it contributes to this country’s massive food waste problem. Follow @uglyfruitandveg on Twitter for more.
More food tech stories:
What’s your favorite food tech gadget? Tell us below!