Six months of research and experimentation culminates this month with Bompas & Parr’s “Culinary Odyssey” event. Here they speak to Futurespace Magazine about their futuristic food plates inspired by science fiction of the past.
Bompas & Parr have worked with food designers, micro-nutritionists, set builders and biochemists employing cutting edge technology to create the 21 March food fest: A Culinary Odyssey. This, according to the organisers, is the first time science fiction has been used to inspire new food ideas that may give insights into how we eat in the future.
After chatting with Sam, one half of “jellymonger” Bompas & Parr duo, there is no doubt this will be an extremely innovative affair for both the eyes and the taste buds. Based at One Marylebone, London, the event will also see the unveiling of the KichenAid 6.9L Artisan Stand Mixer and the launch of the report ‘Future of Food and Food Preparation’ by The Future Laboratory.
Sam Bompas says the new KitchenAid mixer triggered the inspiration behind the odyssey theme. He explains the model drew on the original Hobart mixer, which was much more powerful and strong than the kitchen gadgets of today.
“We thought, this is interesting…what happens if we start taking this idea for food, looking at the past to learn and create the food of the future. That’s where we started and we’ve been having fun ever since!” says Bompas.
So Bompas & Parr turned to science fiction, which, throughout the 20th century, future technologists, government agencies and space experts have also looked to for inspiration.
“Many science fiction authors and film directors invest considerable energy imagining the food of the future and their predictions offer areas for culinary speculation and innovation,” says Bompas & Parr.
Through the cocktail and canapé style evening, the culinary implications of future nutrition and the social, experiential and astrological possibilities of a meal will be explored.
“They’re making the most intoxicating drink in the world – in the galaxy!”
One way Bompas & Parr have experimented is through the use of nanotechnology with food. “We think ethically it’s quite interesting,” said Bompas, “we’re also creating products in totally different ways to ones that already exist, for example flavour changing gum, and things like that.”
“We’ve also done a load of stuff with genetically modified bacteria which is used to excrete the protein enzymes that make fireflies glow. From this we can make florescent lollies.”
“We’re creating a whole range of dishes. And the really cool thing is we get to work with some great people,” he adds. One example he gives is the cocktails the pair have created with ECC – the Experimental Cocktial Club. “They’re making the most intoxicating drink in the world – in the galaxy!” he exclaims. The concoction is called “The Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster”, (first introduced by Douglas Adams and his “Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy”). If you’re tempted to try, maybe down a loaf of bread before you turn up, as the drink comes with the following description:
“The alcoholic equivalent to a mugging, the effects of which are ‘like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick’.”
(Er, two of those then?)
Inventors Poietic Studio have also developed a levitating food device and Kubrick inspired sets will be put together by Rhea Thierstein. The set designer is creating the solar system as part of the décor – the giant insects she is renowned for and also millions of ants crawling all over the space, to tie in with the “insect protein” dish on the futuristic menu.
Thierstein told Futurespace Magazine she was particularly excited about the event, not only because she finally gets to collaborate with Bompas & Parr on a project (something, she says they’ve been meaning to do for quite some time now), but the designer also gets to incorporate insects into her work, a theme she particularly enjoys delving into. In addition, there’s the scientific aspect, another of Thierstein’s major interests.
“It’s going to be creatively exciting and an experience to remember,” she says.
“It’s such a great subject, glow in the dark lollies, insect protein and levitating food, it’s really at the forefront of things, but also based on past fiction – it’s great!”
“The lollipops are really good! I don’t know what they’re doing for the insect pasta, but I’m intrigued to find out.”
Unimaginable sounding canapés, other worldly decor…and seriously, levitating plates! Clearly this will be a feast and spectical that, although may require quite a strong stomach, will no doubt blow our minds in true Bompas & Parr style.
When: 21 March, 18:30-22:00
Where: One Marylebone, 1 Marylebone Road, NW1 4AQ
Tickets: You must be 18 or over to purchase a ticket priced at £5
Purchase: Tickets must be purchased in advance through www.jellymongers.co.uk from 8 March
Oh, and a few menu tasters to wet your appetite for some futuristic food-style action:
Milk Plus – Khat Milk
The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.
Stanley Kubrick (1971) Clockwork Orange
Six foot long banana peel and other super-sized food
‘I beat a man insensible with a strawberry’
Woody Allen (1973) Sleeper
Scop – Bioluminescent Lolly
‘David was a health-food nut, a great devotee of unnatural foods. After eight years of marriage, Laura was used to it. At least the scop was improving. Even the scop, single-cell protein, was better these days. It tasted all right, if you could forget the image of protein vats crammed with swarming bacteria.’ The bioluminescent lolly is made with synthesized Renilla luciferase, the protein responsible for sea creatures’ spontaneous glowing. It is activated by contact with salivial oxygen.
Bruce Sterling (1988) Islands in the Net