Crasota: This fine dining restaurant is bringing artificial intelligence to the dining table.

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In a dark, circular dining room, the late French chef Paul Bocuse explains the next dish.

It has all the hallmarks of the classic fine dining dishes that Bocuse was famous for: quail and foie gras, wrapped in mushroom pate and pastry, and flavored with truffle sauce.

But at Krasota, a fine dining restaurant in Dubai, nothing is as it seems.

Bocuse is not physically there; He has been dead for six years. Instead, it is his likeness on the curved walls of the room, before dissolving into darkness.

The dish, from the recipe to the wall projection to the deeply fake Bokus video, was designed by artificial intelligence (AI). It's one of eight courses in “Imagining Futures,” a multi-course dining experience at Crasota.

The experience takes diners through different scenarios of what the future might look like, from an underwater city to a space colony to a post-nuclear apocalypse, with each dish themed for its setting. Is.

For its AI scenario, Krasota's co-founders — digital artist Anton Nenashev, chef Vladimir Mukhin, and entrepreneur Boris Zharkov — handed over control to the technology. Ninashev, who designs the projections with 3D computer graphics software, let the AI ​​come up with 150 different concepts before blending the best together. And Mukhin inspired generative platform Midjourney to rethink some of Bokos' most popular recipes, including his signature truffle veggie soup.

“We were struck by the exciting prospect of creating AI (re)individuals based on comprehensive data about their lives and experiences,” Zarkov explains. He describes it as the era of the digital age that evokes the late chef's memories and style through technology — and it's just the beginning for the future of food, he says.

“Living hand-in-hand with artificial intelligence has moved from fantasy to reality,” Zarkov adds.

Rebecca Kearns/CNN

The round room creates a 360-degree immersive experience, with more than 20 projectors displaying seamless 3D video graphics.

Zarkov, the restaurant behind the popular White Rabbit in Moscow (where Mukhin is also head chef and co-founder), came up with the idea for Krasota while visiting the TeamLabs digital art museum in Tokyo in 2017, which features an interactive “t House” was present. Experience

“The projection on the table was very simple – for example, you take matcha tea and it looks like a tree starts growing out of your cup,” explains Zarkov. “I decided to do something else with technology: more (food-focused), more complex.”

Assembling an international team of engineers, they began working on multi-surface projections and an AI-powered interactive tabletop that could distinguish between different objects, such as plates and glasses, versus a visitor's hand or phone. Uses a sensor, which allows for target projection. For example, fireflies that “collect” on glasses and plates, or an arcade game that is activated by the diner's hand.

“It was the most difficult, complex technology we've ever built,” Zarkov says. He claims the technology was “the first of its kind” when Krasota initially launched in Moscow in 2021, and recalls staff spending an entire month repeatedly putting plates down on the table to train the AI. By keeping and moving things around for his testing.

“Before, it wasn't very fast — when you moved your phone, it took three seconds to react,” Zarkov says. But AI uses machine learning to improve when it receives new information. “Now you can play with any image on the table.. It seems alive,” he adds.

Rebecca Kearns/CNN

Some courses have interactive gaming elements — such as space scenarios, where AI-powered projectors track diners' hands on the table as they “shoot” spaceships.

Crasota Dubai opened in 2023 with a show, “Imaginary Art”, an eight-course dinner inspired by famous works by international artists. Six months later, the team embarked on “Imaginary Futures,” a hypothetical journey around the world in the coming decades.

Zarkov says it was difficult to get the show's pace right. “It's important to focus on the screen, or On food,” he says, “when you focus too much on the screen, your food becomes popcorn.”

The experience pays attention to the diners: the most interesting and dynamic visuals are in the breaks between courses, and when the food arrives, the graphics become repetitive and passive. Interactive elements only appear when the plates are cleared, and in case of any confusion, human staff (dressed in whimsical themed costumes) help focus on the correct medium.

Whether it's the food or the screens, Zarkov hopes guests take away that “art is important. We want them to feel it.”

Technology at the dinner table isn't exactly a new concept. In 2007, Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck in Britain Introduced “The Sound of the Sea” – a now-famous dish of shellfish sashimi, served on an edible sandy beach, accompanied by a mini iPod stuck in a conch shell and earphones gently lapping at the beach. Play the sound of The cry of the herons

Rebecca Kearns/CNN

Another scenario imagines humans in harmony with the natural world, including plant-based tacos and all-natural sodas.

Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, says it was one of the world's first technology-enabled multi-sensory dishes. He has spent the past two decades exploring how audiovisual stimuli change the taste of food — or at least, our perception of it.

For example, classical music will make you think the food is more expensive, and music that matches the food—for example, Italian songs with a pasta or pizza dish—increases the perception of authenticity. will do In one experiment, Spence found that participants rated the same wine “about 15% sweeter and fruitier with red light, compared to when it's green light, which instead brings out freshness and acidity.”

Even the sound of music can affect taste, Spence adds: Low-pitched sounds will make something taste more bitter, while shrill, high-pitched notes will bring out the sweetness.

“More and more chefs are deliberately introducing this type of 'sonic seasoning' to change the flavor of their food,” says Spence. He added that interest is growing from consumers wanting to explore the “surprising connections” between their different senses.

Technology is becoming more common in these multi-sensory experiences. Restaurants like Zenon, also in Dubai, use “AI-generated art installations” to change the mood of the dining room, and private dining room Jing in Hong Kong created an immersive dining experience with projections and lighting schemes. Explore the ancient Song Dynasty.

Rebecca Kearns/CNN

Crasota's custom ceramic plates and cutlery help evoke an underwater dining experience in the style of seashells and crab claws.

Most multisensory dining experiences, often held at high-end venues and conceived by world-class chefs, are expensive and inaccessible. (Krasota's show starts at 1,200 dirhams, about $326.)

But Spence likens it to the “Formula One of food,” where the best dishes and experiences “will go mainstream.”

And it's already happening: Fanta's “TikTok Experience” asked consumers to discover how its special-edition drink tasted different with different stimuli, and Spence collaborated with Italian food manufacturer Barilla on pasta variations. Working on soundscapes of sorts.

In the future, Spence sees more companies integrating sensory experiences — perhaps QR codes on products that link to playlists to enhance taste.

Zarkov's vision of the future is a bit more science fiction: he speculates that eventually, brain chips will trick your brain into projecting your senses with your heart's desires. “In your mind, it looks like the best California sushi roll you've ever seen,” Zarkov says. But really, the dish is “biomass,” containing the exact nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs.

But if people are stuck in their own hyper-optimized world, if the dishes on the table don't look the same to your partner as they do to you, if the decor is different, then the communal and social aspect of eating is lost. ?

“Any technology that interferes with the social aspects of eating is not going to be successful,” says Spence, like headsets or glasses. “People mostly want to talk to each other. Eating is primarily a social activity.

Zarkov agrees that “the main goal is still to socialize” and Crisota avoids technology like VR that can disrupt the experience. One element the team is currently testing is putting a “living skin” on people's hands, giving them a different aesthetic, like a scaly fish — but for walking with a person. Designing is still “very complicated,” Zarkov says.

Crasota continues to innovate and experiment with its projection technology. Its next show, expected to debut in early 2025, is inspired by “Alice in Wonderland” and will “use a lot of AI in production, because they've taken a huge step forward. Last year's technology, says Zarkov, adding: “We can now 're-animate' people's images, use AI in the creative process, and either be animated with that collaboration. are or may be afraid of it.”

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