This weekend, I attended the Taste3 conference in Napa. Taste is an unusually structured conference focused on food, wine, and art: each speaker has 18 minutes to present on his or her topic, and then we move on to the next speaker. No panels, no audience questions. Just presentation after presentation after presentation. Then we eat (and eat and eat).
Presentations ranged from earthworm farming to molecular gastronomy in the pastry kitchen to the ravaging of the kauri forests in New Zealand. Our own Thy Tran gave an engrossing presentation about the Sikh community in California. All in all, the conference was approximately thirty presentations over two intense, inspiring days.
Early on the first day, Rene Koster presented. He is director of the Restaurant of the Future Research Foundation in the Netherlands. The restaurant of the future is an actual restaurant in the Netherlands that is basically a lab in which researchers can test all sorts of environmental factors and their affect on consumers.
The New York Times reported on the restaurant of the future in November: "How will people behave if we put out fresh flowers, or shine a red light on a dish?" asked Nico Heukels, research director of Sodexho, a leading food services company and partner in the project. "What if we put out square or colored plates? Will they choose healthier things if we spray fruity scent in the air?"