This is the most tender beef you can eat, and it's not sirloin.

Gastronomy is a science that cooperates with other disciplines that are apparently alien to it. Traditional cuisine can coexist with molecular cuisine; meatballs are not at odds with spherifications, nor fire with liquid nitrogen. All techniques are valid.

In this scenario, eager for innovations with which to surprise an increasingly demanding client, engineers and architects have a lot to contribute. They know this well at Cocuus System, a technology-based startup, framed in the mechatronics sector, which in its almost three years of life (it was born in 2017 for a four-year R&D&I project) has surprised large food and beverage companies, Michelin-starred restaurants, and is finalising preparations to participate in a research project on food in hospitals and residences for people with swallowing problems.

"We study how to use high technology to develop machines that improve the customer experience in gastronomy".

The team that has made two amazing technologies such as food laser transformation and food INK-jET printing a reality is made up of eight technicians (engineers in mechatronics, robotics, architects, computer scientists) who in their 'kitchen' in Pamplona research "how to use high technology to develop machines and processes that improve the customer experience in gastronomy", Patxi Larumbe, engineer and co-founder of Cocuus, explains to Alimente. "We are the first research and development centre for digital technology applied to gastronomy in Europe, associated with the National Centre for Food Technology and Safety (CNTA)," he says.

Cut, print and ready to eat

In the process of developing these technologies (which are already patented worldwide), chefs and art restorers have worked side by side with engineers and computer scientists, a collaboration that has resulted in "the first commercial laser food processing equipment that, in addition to cutting, synthesising and laser printing on food, also 3D and 2D prints and machines fruits and edible objects".

In addition, the group has developed a machine that prints on beers suitable for intensive use, and has become an attraction at parties and events by being able to serve personalised beers.

And because there is strength in numbers, "we have allied with another small company, Makeat, which is complementary to ours", says an enthusiastic Larumbe. "They are restless young people, with our same vision of innovation, and between the two of us we do things as attractive as 3D printing so that people can print their own food".

The inventors, says the founding partner, aim to enhance the wow factor and that is what restaurateurs are looking for: "We manufacture technologies that generate surprise. Food laser processing gives the chef a tool that introduces engineering and architecture to make impossible creations by hand, and INK-jET printing brings colour to those creations. The result is amazing.

Robotic catering

Apart from the sense of fun, this type of technology has great potential to improve the diets of people who, for various reasons (illness, old age, etc.) have a reduced ability to chew and swallow. Patxi Larumbe puts a figure on the problem: "In Europe there are ten million people who cannot chew and have to eat purées. After a while, they hate them and stop eating".

The solution comes with 3D printing and colour laser injection. The raw material is still mash, but the result is an appetising medallion of beef tenderloin with potatoes, hake in sauce and even an irresistible-looking T-bone steak. A menu that is appealing to the eye, soft to the mouth and nutritious. "It's all about bringing back the excitement of eating," says the engineer, who points out that this development is not yet available to the public.

Food is not the only thing revolutionising the engineering of this start-up. Its director previews the next novelties: two developments in assistive robotics for catering companies. "They are robots that serve canapés around the rooms and 'videomapping' for catering companies and restaurants.

Undoubtedly, engineering and gastronomy, a perfect marriage.

El Confidencial

Post by Cocuus

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