"Future Food" debuted Tuesday on the Planet Green network and follows chefs Homaru Cantu and Ben Roche as they set out on weekly quests to create dishes in new ways using innovative and advanced technology in the kitchen of their Fulton Market restaurant MOTO.
A recent screening event at MOTO unveiled the Chicago-based series featuring the "molecular gastronomists" who meld science with haute cuisine.
The restaurant regularly features edible menus, made from various grains. On this occasion the menu tasted like a very well seasoned corn tortilla with a food based print.
Cantu and Roche (above) chef and executive pastry chef respectively, are likable enough both on-screen and off, which adds to the appeal of the show, with no over-sized egos apparent and good friendly chemistry.
A youthful kitchen staff keeps the show's vibe hip. The first episode shows the pair embarking on a mission to somehow address the problem of overfishing by creating dishes that taste like fish, but have no fish in them.
This premise sounded like a green start, and left me wondering if the two might try vegan versions of fish-tasting foods molded into traditional seafood dishes. But as the episode wears on, we see the chefs create a mock tuna dish from chicken. Mock scallops made from tofu and mock sushi made from watermelon both fail taste tests by shoppers (who presumably know their seafood) at Mitsuwa Marketplace, the Japanese super mall and market in Arlington Heights.
During the kitchen tour portion of the evening, a member of the kitchen staff (below) prepared a vegan "cigar" for a member of Oprah Winfrey's staff with edible ashes served in an ashtray. The standard version being passed consisted of pulled pork wrapped in an edible paper, which I found myself reaching for a second and third serving of earlier in the night.
While there is no doubt Cantu and Roche have an inventive and appealing range of ideas for food, there was little talk, in the first episode at least, of how MOTO deals with kitchen waste, or whether the restaurant makes a consistent effort to incorporate local, seasonal or organic ingredients in their dishes, though the show is based on the idea that the chefs will attempt to tackle environmental food issues.
Later episodes appear to touch on sustainability a bit more, with discussion of Cantu's experiments in food packaging and cooking with weeds. Pairing actions like these with the fun and fast paced missions would give the show more staying power and less reliance on novelty.