The future is here. Printers creating pizzas have arrived, and the crust consists of hundreds of layers meticulously printed into fluffy pastry goodness.
Anjan Contractor, Chintan Kanuga, Ben Feltner and Austin’s Jordan French launched food tech company BeeHex in January of 2016. Introducing its capabilities last March at SXSW with live demos, the company plans on going live this year, however, two things need to happen for BeeHex before disrupting the food industry with robot magic.
First, they need their pending certification finalized by the National Sanitation Foundation, which assures consumers, retailers and regulators that products have been rigorously tested to comply with standard requirements.
Second, they need to officially go live on the market through the contracts they’ve already received from interested theme parks, restaurants, caterers and other similar venues.
Since SXSW, where French described BeeHex’s demos as the “Cinderella of the ball,” they’ve decided not to push the printers to the consumer market. French said after collecting surveys and market communication studies, the data decided it’d be best for the product to be strictly available for commercial use.
“We know the market is not ready for something like this next to your Keurig and microwave,” said French. “But people want the experience. They want to see the action of a robot making the food, then they want to eat it, and they want it to taste good. Luckily, we’ve lined up all three.”
The BeeHex developers have since cut the total time it takes to make a pizza from five minutes for a 12” pie to four minutes —something it would normally take a human nine minutes to complete.
“It’s significant because the faster you can print, the more you can make, and the more you can sell,” said French.
They’ve also added visual elements, like creating customized shapes of pizzas to fit the venues of those they plan on contracting with, like a giraffe shape for a zoo, a mascot of a sports team, or company logos.
As for taste, this summer they recruited the chef skills of NYC pizza king Pascquale Cozzolino as a culinary advisor, using the same pizza recipe in the printer as Cozzalino uses in his Manhattan restaurant Ribalta.
“When you’re using the same recipe as the #1 chef in NYC, the pizza capital, this is going to be good pizza,” said French.
To assist with food traffic density, BeeHex developers are finalizing an app, so consumers can customize the pizza, order it, and receive real-time push notifications on the status.
The machines cost between $20,000 and $25,000, and French said hundreds of companies have reached out for more information on launch dates and contracts.
BeeHex has offices in Austin, Houston and California. Co-founder Anjan Contractor built NASA’s first 3D-food printer designed for manned missions to Mars originally in 2013.
Images provided by BeeHex.