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Virtual Dining

The latest food technology news creating a buzz amongst food enthusiasts is about Chef Andoni Aduriz of Mugaritz, Spain and his partnership with a UK based computing scientist to develop an application that will allow diners to smell food on their mobile devices. An app named Scentee is to be used with an add on device to allow diners to virtually prepare a recipe and then savor the aroma with the help of the app.

Aduriz is an internationally acclaimed chef, his restaurant ranks #3 on the Restaurant Magazine's World's 50 Best restaurants list, who introduced sprays to mimic food flavors at Madrid Fusion in 2012 and this year created a sensation with this moderately priced application for mobile devices to be launched in the market. This add on device, Scentee for iPhones and Android, will allow diners to virtually prepare a recipe and then savor the aroma with the help of the app. The techie device is moderately priced at $35 with the cartridges for the Smell-O-Vision are projected to be sold for $5 each.

What will the average diner or layperson infer from this bit of food technology? Can we safely comprehend that if we cannot travel to Mugaritz in Spain or any other destination restaurant, we will no longer need an obscene amount of money to afford a meal there since we can now simply experience it by a whiff on your smart phone and save a bundle. This digital olfaction might eventually replace the action of putting food in your mouth or chewing and digesting it.

What will the business repercussions be if this came into use all over the world? Will it be enough to satisfy a craving or substitute an actual meal at a glorified restaurant, or be the best choice for some one watching their caloric intake and not ready for a 20+ course meal? Will we now transform into armchair diners watching reality food shows on TV and smelling our mobile devices? The mind boggles at this concept but who knows ten years from now we will be judging a dish by its smell before deciding where to eat say an Osso Buco, a Chicken Tikka Masala, a mole, ramen, or a flavorful pho if they have not morphed into unrecognizable forms by then. Maybe it can feed the hungry in the world by them just inhaling the flavor of food to satisfy their hunger pangs. We will no longer anticipate a journey to a so called temple of cuisine since now with the instant release of pictures of plates on social media, we will be able to savor simultaneously the flavors as well. That's 'virtual food' for thought.