What If Food Was More About Experimentation and Less About Tradition?

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What if food was more about experimentation and less about tradition? And what if new technology was used to vitalise cooking instead of just simplifying the process and replacing the craftsmanship? Can new experiments change the way we look upon food? And can interactivity be the spark that enlightens the evolution of food?

Collaborative cooking is a project and experiment initiated by two creatives, a programmer and a chef (PJADAD, christian Isberg, Carl Berglöf and Lasse Korsgaard). Together they have developed a physical platform in the shape of a cooking machine, a machine linked with a digital platform. It all began with a question asked to one of Sweden’s top chefs.

Do you always have to taste your own food?

Not as long as I have cooked it myself, he replayed.

This answer raised a lot of new questions. Can chefs cook together without direct communication? And what if all actions in the cooking process are direct reactions to other chef’s decisions?

Slowly the thoughts materialised into a machine. Vast experiments resulted in six unique functions and the ability to use a variety of ingredients. The complete cooking machine allows five chefs to perform slow cooking together. They control the 35 ingredients, heat and stirring, different ingredients and perform the actual cooking process together. The digital platform allows them to cook from a distance and simultaneous engage in a digital discussion about food and cooking.

When someone performs an action, a lamp is lit and a small receipt is printed. This creates an archive of actions that is stored both physically and digitally. The reason is simple – the chefs and everyone else should be able to follow the process. A cooking session will go on for 10 to 20 hours. The result will be a documented discussion about food but also a dish ready to serve.

Collaborative Cooking

Collaborative Cooking is a project initiated and created by Christian Isberg, Petter Johansson Kukacka, Lasse Korsgaard and Carl Berglöf. The project is based on a digital platform that controls and interacts with a physical cooking machine. This is a way to explore how we will prepare and discuss our food in the future. Does cooking require a physical presence or is it possible to create and explore through digital platforms and experience food beyond the known limitations? Collaborative cooking further examines the possibilities to cook together and is the beginning of a new era – an era full of new collaborations and innovations.

The project

Christian Isberg, Petter Johansson Kukacka, Lasse Korsgaard and Carl Berglöf works together in this project about how food, interaction and anonymity can create discussion and commitment in the form of new physical meetings. In order to accomplish this they have constructed a digital platform that works like a framework for the discussion and the performance. The digital platform is linked with a physical machine that translates the digital dialogue to a form of input; the input is created by those who contribute to the project and is later processed by the machine. The participants – five chefs – take part through their own computers and through these they create a dish together. They collectively cook from different locations and make one dish together. The machine that is specially built for this purpose has a unique interface that the participants use in order to compose this collective dish.



The machine

The cooking machine has 35 different functions/ingredients that has been carefully selected and researched though a collaboration with the chef Carl Berglöf. Each ingredient has its own purpose and place in entirety. The participants use the functions of the machine to add different ingredients in a pot. The machine in linked with the digital platform though an ordinary Internet connection where output creates input in reality. This allows the participants to add the different ingredients in real life and directly into the pot. The project researches how different people will orient themselves in a given framework and what kind of interaction, discussion, collaborations and conflicts that creates when you respond to the other’s decisions.



Background and motives

On of the purposes of the project is to develop a system that is open to influences from the outside and from the real world. The project is a combination of dialogue and play where our own brains are a surprising and unspecified force, a force that is activated by our participation in the process. A part of the incentive behind the project is participation, to see what really happens when different people participate in the same system. The participants rarely know what to expect – this even though they all have the same presumptions, are parts of the same system, have the same rules, regulations and tools. One of the goals of the project is to develop a system that create a good balance between freedom and limitations and through this cooking event make it all accessible and useful. A balance between simple rules and complex results that stimulates creative thinking for all the participants and allow them to control the system as their own. Systems and/or tools like this can often be applied in digital structures, so called interactive environments. The problematic thing is that they rarely become more than reactive – you push a button and something happens as a direct result. With this project the creators want to achieve ingredients and opportunities that creates rules and restrictions. How you then react and respond is up to each participant. This allows a team of individuals to research the opportunity to create a discussion on how to really cook a dish.



Renewal and cooperation

This project examines how we can collaborate in the same structure and towards common goals. How we – through a framework and in relation to the other participants – can create a discussion that result in the cooking of a specific dish. This is also a unique collaboration between a professional chef, anonymously participants and the creators of the framework. Can we, though this technology, create conditions for abstract dialogues about cooking? And do we really need to go to expensive restaurants and meet famous chefs in order to have a stimulating dialogue about food and cooking? This project opens up for an examination around the subject of cooking, dialogue, technology, interactivity and new ways to act in a kitchen.


Expected results and long-term effects

All the results will be documented, a documentation that display the process and how we anonomysously work in a system where everybody has the same conditions. A meeting will take place where we after the cooking process gather in order to taste the food and discuss the work. The media of the documentation process is digital, for each event the information is stored digitally and later it will be available in an accessible database. The database will work as an achieve where you can discover the entire process. This information is public and will be used for an upcoming event – a lab that explore how we though a framework of rules and requests can discuss the most interesting results in so many more ways than just though an ordinary discussion. To the people behind the project, this is a way to develop and examine their interest in digital “invisible” frameworks – frameworks that invited participants can work within. This is also the result of an interest in technology where the people behind the project want to explore how theoretical ideas can be combined with technical solutions – a practical approach were the technology is not used for its own sake. This is also a part of an ongoing discussion about food where ongoing events like this might have a permanent place in the future and become alternatives to ordinary restaurants. This is just the beginning – the start of a process and the first steps towards more collaborative cooking.



Exhibitions of Collaborate Cooking

Clerkenwell design week in cooperation with Strangebeast 20-22 of May
Atelier Food at The royal Swedish academy of fine arts, 13 of June




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About the author

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Houke de Kwant is a frontend developer from the Netherlands and the creator of TheArtHunters (former Daily Inspiration, which was started as part of his study).

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