CultureMap Austin -- Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the world were made of chocolate? Well, two Austin entrepreneurs are working to make all our cocoa-based dreams come true.
“We want to let our customers express themselves in a unique fashion,” says Levi Lalla, co-owner of Piq Chocolates, “and I cannot think of a better canvas than chocolate.” Lalla and his business partner, University of Texas Austin graduate Donovan Crowley, are putting their professional engineering backgrounds to use producing custom-shaped chocolates using a 3D printer.
Back when Lalla was a mechanical engineering student at MIT, he earned a reputation for approaching cooking projects like a mad scientist. “I had easy access to a kitchen in our dorm,” he recalls, “so I was constantly experimenting with food.”
Some of his experiments included baking breads with different flours to see how protein content affects end result, making ice cream with liquid nitrogen and crafting together a sous-vide cooker out of found parts.
The idea to make a 3D printer for chocolate has been with Lalla for years, but the necessary technology wasn’t available until recently. Their current printer creates a plastic mold for the chocolate, but they’re also developing a direct 3D printer to be unveiled during the South by Southwest Interactive conference this March.