On paper, it sounds delectable. You start with a selection of local cheeses, followed by pickled Kobe beef. Then there’s ricotta ravioli, Shiitake mushrooms, and halibut poached in truffle butter. After a few more dishes, following a pear ginger juice palate cleanser, you’ll arrive at the main course: a rib eye steak with grilled mustard greens. The feast comes to a close with a French canelé and a hazelnut latte. Divine! Just one thing: You’ll be eating it all in the form of a wobbling gelatinous tower.
The 12-course meal in a can was created by Chris Godfrey, a student at Kingston University in London, as part of a dissertation on today’s bombastic consumerism. Fascinated with the extravagant gimmicks companies use to get us to buy their products, Godfrey got to wondering what the competing trends driving contemporary consumer culture–our love of “quality” products, and our even greater love of utter, braindead convenience–might look like at their obvious, revolting conclusion. And thus the “All in One” was born.
It’s probably the most decadent zombie apocalypse ration ever conceived. But you can’t accuse Godfrey of false advertising: Each layer of his gourmet stack really consists of what it says on the label. That wasn’t an easy process. First Godfrey prepared all the dishes on the menu; then he ran them through a food processor and meticulously combined each with gelatin. “They were individually poured, one by one, on top of each other, with each layer taking around 60 minutes to process and set,” he explains. “It was a long day.”
Not long enough, though, for him to work up an appetite for his cylindrical creation. Godfrey says the piece is supposed to be a humorous reflection on consumer culture. “It’s not a statement on the food industry so much,” he says, “nor was it ever made for consumption.” In other words, it’s food for thought, not dinner.