Chloé Rutzerveld is a critical food designer. She is fascinated by nature, the human body, and, as she says, “the strange relationship people have with food.” After she graduated from the Eindhoven University of Technology in 2014, she started her own studio as Food and Concept Designer. She loves combining aspects of design, science, and technology in order to figure out new ways to make food more efficient, healthy, and sustainable.
Rutzerveld became well-known after her partnership with TNO, where she developed “Edible Growth,” a critical design project about the potential use of additive manufacturing in food production. Multiple layers of a support structure and an edible breeding ground were 3D printed according to a personalized 3D file. Within five days, the plants and fungi had matured and the yeast had fermented into a solid within the liquid. Rutzerveld has proven a way for consumers to become farmers and become more involved in the production of their food without spending a lot of time gardening.
With her newfound knowledge, Rutzerveld decided to approach several challenges, one of which was STROOOP!
“STROOOP! explores creative ways to turn by-products of the vegetable industry into high quality products by making smart use of the natural characteristics of vegetables. It demonstrates that the use of by-products and rejected vegetables can go far beyond making boring soups and sauces! At the same time, it educates consumers about where our food consists of,” says Rutzerveld.
The project presents the first plant-based stroopwafel made from by-products of the vegetable industry. Each waffle is made out of 100 grams of carrot, beetroot, or celeriac. The juice of the vegetables is turned into a delicious syrup by reducing the water content. Because the stroopwafels are entirely plant-based, they are a great source of dietary fiber and free of gluten, added sugars, and food-colorings.
“The STROOOP! project started in January 2016, when I was preparing dinner,” says Rutzerveld. “I took some sweet potatoes out of the oven and saw a kind of caramel-like substance running out of the potatoes. It fascinated me that something we perceive as a ‘healthy vegetable’ could be so easily turned into something extremely sweet, something that could be seen as unhealthy.”
Rutzerveld suddenly became completely obsessed with the idea of turning sweet potatoes into cotton candy. However, the experiment quickly failed because she didn’t have the right equipment in the kitchen and, more important, sweet potatoes entail maltose and not sucrose (which you need for cotton candy). At this point Rutzerveld dove into food science and plant biology. After studying a lot and consulting some experts, she decided to test beets, carrots, and other root vegetables with different structures. She still wasn’t able to crystallize the sugars in the root vegetables for cotton candy, but she found a way to make delicious vegetable syrups.
It just so happened that while making the syrups, a lot of the vegetable fibre got left behind. Rutzerveld didn’t want to waste anything, and while she was trying to understand what to do with the leftover fibre, she realized that it could be turned into stroopwafel.
“Because it didn’t make any sense to use the whole vegetable, at this point I got in contact with Proverka – a company that turns vegetable misfits and by-products into juices and fibers. I continued the experimentation and recipe development with their raw materials and asked Martin Schreiber, master of student food technology, to help developing the recipe with as little added ingredients as possible.”
Rutzerveld is the perfect example of a young maker who is applying her skills and passions to create a change in the food industry, both in the mind-set of producers and the education of consumers.
“I think the future of food will go in multiple directions. It’ll all be very high tech and monitor the body—food that’s not big on flavour and more about nutrients. I also think there will be a rise in urban farming, growing your own food, and being more attached to nature. I hope we continue eating less meat and become more aware of what we eat. There’s a huge loss of sensory experience because of mass-produced food, so I think we’ll become more focused on the textures and flavours of what we eat,” she says.