The French Culinary Institute has teamed up with Cornell University to work on an interesting project-printing out 3 dimensional food stuffs from pureed scallops, cheese, chocolate, hummus, turkey and more. Sounds weird, right? FCI's Dave Arnold is quick to point out that while most people immediately imagine printing out strip steaks or painting faces on birthday cakes, his goals are elsewhere (which is great, because why would you print a steak?). He's currently focusing on "crispy corn snacks" that utilize the printer's ability to create squiggly patterns with lots of surface area.
"I can imagine creating really interesting textures using meat with the same technique. Imagine [a food] almost like a meatloaf that absorbs sauce like a sponge. That is cool — much cooler to me than printing some ersatz steak."
Currently, it sounds like the technology is not meant to replace any traditional cooking techniques, but aims to diversify the tool kit available to the modern chef. Time will tell if 3D food printing is a cooking technique that will end up in the commercial kitchen.
*here's a link to an open source 3D printing site if you'd like to get involved