Edible Innovations: Maker Faire Rome Showcases the Future of Food

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Edible Innovations: Maker Faire Rome Showcases the Future of Food

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Future Food Institute — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.

More than 100,000 visitors in just 3 days, over 700 projects presented by makers from over 60 countries. These are the numbers of Maker Faire Rome 2017 – The European Edition 4.0, the biggest European exhibition on the theme of innovation, organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Rome through Innova Camera. Let’s have a look at all interesting food makers that made this events such a great success (and don’t miss to see our Storify!).

The Future in the Making – Opening Conference

Every day hundreds of innovations change the way we live, produce, and relate to others. From digital manufacturing to the food of the future, from robotics to biohacking, from Enterprise 4.0 to drones, from artificial intelligence to agriculture 4.0. These are the topics discussed in the opening conference of Maker Faire 2017 called “The future in the making.” The importance of the debate on these issues and the central role that Maker Faire Rome plays in the Italian scene has been explained by institutional presenters such as the Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi, the Minister Carlo Calenda, and Lorenzo Tagliavanti, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Rome.

Mark Hatch, among the founders of the Maker movement at a global level, kicked off the conference, stating that “makers are changing the world, and this is possible thanks to less expensive technologies that allow all of us to be makers and test ideas out.” Jessie Mooberry, one of our guests from the Stanford Peace Innovation Lab, explained how the maker approach has also changed business models. Driven by sting visions, she shared with all of us how much the mission is now leading the way to find new business models, and influencing us to look at technologies as both tools to solve real problems and do business. Eventually, Miguel Angel Figueroa, founder of Novus Foundation, stated that “the future in the world of makers will come from the intersection of some fundamental elements: resolution of criticality, a passionate collaboration between different subjects, and scalability of technologies.” This was by far one of the most clear and effective ways to describe makers and their activities.

In terms of food, our guests were really impressive as well. Pierre Yves Pasilier spoke about Ooho, an innovative packaging that encapsulates water and other liquids, like fruit juices. It is made with algae and vegetables, biodegrades in just 4-6 weeks, and is edible!

Chloe Rutzerveld, pioneering food designer and maker who has traveled the world with her project Edible Growth, presented Strooop!, a company which transforms fruits and vegetables by-products into delicious meals. Finally, Steven Ritz shared his Green Bronx Machine. Together with his students, he has grown over 18,000 kg of fruit and vegetables, and taught thousands of children and families how to grow and appreciate food. He has been operating out of the poorest the Bronx, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the U.S. His energy is simply unbelievable, and can be summed up by one of his favourite quotes: “Approach food challenges “from Impossible to I’m possible!”


The Agrifood panel has been another highlight moment, especially for the Food Makers. It’s exploded these past few years and it is now within reach of all DIY culture in the field of robotics and precision sensors. How does such a wealth of knowledge apply in the context of Agrifood 4.0?

I had the honour to be part of the session, and had the opportunity to describe the food making movement and the great stories I’ve touched on this past year. Stephen Ritz explained how food should not just be considered a commodity, as it is a fundamental element in other aspects that regulate our life. “Food is politics, culture, and infrastructure,” Stephen said, “And only with collaboration and innovation as collective processes can we thrive together.” Miguel Valenzuela, the inventor of Pancake bot, explained how it is possible to bring to life a project with a strong social matrix that combines food with technology. Matthew Oswald, the creator of Mugsy, shared with us how a machine that uses standard network technologies can manage every aspect of the coffee infusion process. Matthew said, “For me, being a maker is a subversive act. Passing from consumer to producer is already a reward in itself. We can cry out to the world that we will build it with our hands and then we will share exactly how we did it with everyone.”

The second part of the session began with words from both Marie Caye and Arvid Jense, two artists who are also experiential designers and technological explorers. They shared their last creation, SAM, a machine that uses AI to produce and serve kefir soda (and soon Kombucha). During their speech, they spoke about the “democratic” scope of new technologies, increasingly accessible and closer to the consumer and his final experience. The panel ended with the intervention of Lee Cadesky, founder of One Hop Kitchen, the first Bolognese sauce based on insects. Lee explained how new foods often tend to confuse consumers, and how it is important to blend novelty with tradition in order to make something relevant and familiar for users.

You can watch a video of the entire session.

Face to Face with the Food Makers: Pavilion 9

Pavilion 9 was dedicated to art, music and food, proposing cutting-edge projects on the themes of food, agriculture, gardening, and new artistic and musical forms. We invited them to come over, and got the chance to speak with them and take a ton of pictures. I want to share a quick overview of some of their projects. Ready? Go!

Plantui is an hydroponic garden for domestic use that can grow up to 12 plants at the same time. This is all thanks to a patented system that is able to work through any season with a special light spectrum that increases the content of vitamin C and beta-carotene.

Wallfarm is a “learn intelligent agriculture” system designed to automate the cultivation of edible plant products, regardless of the size of the spaces available. Lettuce, aromatic herbs, green beans, tomatoes, and strawberries can grow on the walls of kitchens or small balconies, and used in the preparation of healthy dishes.

Sam is a machine that uses AI to produce and serve kefir soda (and soon Kombucha).

Cooki is a software service dedicated to professionals in the food industry that allows them to easily manage food costs and communicate their food’s information, such as allergens and nutritional values.

Spireat is a Spirufarm that produces 100% organic Italian spirulina through sustainable agriculture. How does it do it? It recovers the thermal energy of biogas, allowing it to produce spirulina available year round.

Waste2Value aims to create an innovative circular economy model for the recovery of waste and food byproducts in a shopping center. It is an online platform that aims to bridge companies producing waste and all those entities that use the waste as a primary resource for the creation of their products.

Biospong is an innovative system of olive oil extraction conceived and patented by a Sicilian miller, Nino La Greca.

REVOILution is a high quality technological service that produces virgin olive oil for pasta.

Funghi Espresso was awarded at the 2016 edition of Maker Faire Rome with a blue ribbon. They aim to produce fresh mushrooms in a sustainable and natural way, and the coffee grounds from the bars and restaurants of the area as a substratum for cultivation.

Ripple allows you to order your coffee and decorate it with phrases and images printed on the spot.

Shi Liao Bo aims to create a meeting point between science and cuisine through Food Alchemy. The properties of uncooked and unprocessed foods are enhanced through the use of different techniques: fermentation, dehydration, and infusion. This inspires a circular model where the word “waste” is reinvented and transformed into value.

One Hop Kitchen presented the first Bolognese ragu created with insects.

Chef 4.0: Workshops from the Future Food Ecosystem

In collaboration with technical-scientific partners and highly innovative startups, both the press and the public were treated to a diverse set of ways that people can interact with the different creation processes of food.

Food 3D Printing

After experiencing World Maker Faire New York, PancakeBot, the Pancake 3D printer, arrived to showoff its talents at Maker Faire Rome. Colourful pancakes and incredible shapes were created by Chef Miguel Valenzuela.

Food Alchemy

Fermentation has been used by humans for more than 5,000 years and is a method for transforming low-value raw materials into edible foods with a high nutritional value. It is a simple, sustainable practice with numerous health benefits! At Maker Faire Rome, the food alchemists Francesco Dell’Onze and Jose de la Rosa dedicated an entire workshop to the topic, and opened an entire lab that highlighted the power of fermented foods for human health


Tradition and Innovation Made in Italy

Chef Marco Vitale used the products of Funghi Espresso and the diamond pasta provided by one of the makers to showcase how to blend different creations in one tasty, novel, and inclusive dish.

Little Makers, Great Heroes! Future Food Kids Lab at Maker Faire Rome 2017

Maker Faire is a party for everyone and even this year we could not skip the moments dedicated to real future food innovators: children!

On Sunday 3 December, in the KIDS Future Food area, we animated three workshops dedicated to children aged 6 to 12 years.

Science in the Kitchen

In this new kids lab, we taught our little scientists the correct terms for edible chemicals, such as sodium bicarbonate or sucrose, and allowed them to play and experiment with them, and explore the world of food.

Food Waste

The aim of the laboratory was to understand how much attention should be paid to food while minimizing waste through a sustainable lifestyle. Our young food makers created the “Salvacibo,” a system to help unsold food reach the tables of people who aren’t getting enough food.

Superfoods for Super Heroes

What do superheroes eat? What if the vegetables were the real superheroes? In this workshop we focused on exploring new recipes to share in the family, as well as learning the history of superfoods and how to create new tasty combinations all through fun culinary adventures. The children learned the basics of health and secrets to maintaining good nutrition.

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Chiara is fascinated by food as a means to impact bodies, minds, and environment. She has studied international business in three different countries, and is an alumni of the Food Innovation Program and US Director at the Future Food Institute.

Based in California, she is also a Research Scholar at Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, working on building the first comprehensive Internet of Food to enable food care through food systems semantics. She is a selected member of Barilla Center Food Nutrition Foundation, a Research Affiliate at Institute For The Future, Board Member at Maker Faire and selected member of the Global Shapers, a young global network of innovators promoted by the World Economic Forum.

She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and impact investing, and aims to leave her mark on society.

View more articles by Chiara Cecchini


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.