Delicious Designs: New York Architect/Café Owner Uses 3D Printer to Create Architectural Chocolate

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chocolatesNot only does 3D printing open new creative doors in just about every industry, it also enables entrepreneurs to combine aspects of seemingly disparate industries into new and exciting businesses. Peter Zaharatos has spent his career working in the field of architecture, and he currently teaches the subject at New York City College of Technology. He’s a talented architectural designer whose skills have served him well in his chosen profession, but not long ago he decided to use those skills for an entirely different purpose. Last month, Zaharatos opened Sugarcube Dessert and Coffee, a gourmet café in Long Island City, New York. In addition to serving coffee, the café offers desserts that are nothing short of works of art.

Like many architects, Zaharatos is well acquainted with 3D printing. It’s becoming the preferred method for making architectural scale models, and Zaharatos has plenty of experience using 3D modeling to design his projects. When he opened Sugarcube, he simply adapted those skills for chocolate instead of concrete. First he sketches his design idea on paper, then transfers it to 3D modeling software and prints it. He then uses the print to create a mold, which he passes on to his lead pastry chef, Mauricio Santelice, who uses the mold to create gorgeous, exotically flavored chocolates.

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These 3D printed models will be used to create chocolate molds. [Image: Angela Matua, QNS.com]

The desserts definitely fall into the “almost too pretty to eat” category. The architectural influence is obvious in the geometrically shaped chocolates and tall, multilayered cakes. Some of the dessert designs, in fact, actually started as ideas for client projects.

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[Image: Angela Matua, QNS.com]

“Pastry chefs are very similar to architects because they’re building and structuring things,” Zaharatos told the Queens Courier. “[They’re] combining very minuscule proportions in ingredients and they’re making things that actually have to stand and hold shapes.”

Zaharatos designed and built the café himself along with his brother, a fellow architect. Naturally, 3D modeling and printing was used to design much of the space. Despite the ultra-modern design of both the space and the food, however, many of the ingredients and flavors rely heavily on tradition. Greek native Zaharatos wanted to use the café partially to introduce the flavors of Greece to visitors. Some of the ingredients go way back to ancient times, such as mastiha, a tree sap traditionally used by Greeks as a chewing gum and as a remedy for indigestion. Zaharatos and Santelice use it as a flavoring in vanilla bean gelato. Their pistachio éclairs are filled with buttercream made from pistachios grown by Zaharatos’ father-in-law at his plantation in Greece.

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Mauricio Santelice (L) and Peter Zaharatos [Image: Angela Matua, QNS.com]

Other desserts are flavored with hybrid concoctions you may never have thought to incorporate into chocolates – blueberry vodka, for example, while more conventional flavors like salted caramel also make appearances. Santelice uses color to highlight the food’s architectural elements, adding gold dust to certain chocolates to accentuate their sharp lines and small details.

While 3D printed food may not have caught on yet with the general public, I foresee zero resistance to chocolates designed with 3D printers – especially when they’re as pretty, and, from word on the street, as delicious as these ones. I live several hours away from New York, and I’m rather distraught by this at the moment. The candy bar I’m thinking about buying from the drugstore later just isn’t going to cut it. Discuss in the 3D Printed Chocolate Molds forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Video: Fox 5 NY]

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