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Of Mice and Muskrat, meet Chloe Rutzerveld !

For her inventive culinary experiments, Chloé Rutzerveld (1992) combines science, technology, and design to make food more efficient, healthy and sustainable. But what really sets Rutzerveld apart are her secret ingredients – rule-breaking twists that invite people to think more deeply about their relationship to what they consume. Read on to discover more about this innovative entrepreneur from the Brainport Region.

In The Other Dinner, an event Rutzerveld organized during an internship with the Waag Society in Amsterdam while still an industrial design student at the Eindhoven University of Technology, she treated diners to mice and muskrat, part of a program that blended design, biotechnology and culture to discuss the future of meat. She first led a “nose-to-tail” cooking workshop using all parts of an animal, then the class prepared and tasted animals not usually eaten (enter the mice and muskrat) and from there Rutzerveld conducted a workshop about making cultured meat, that is meat grown synthetically inside of cell culture instead of from animals.

“We had 60 people – scientists, artists, philosophers. It was amazing to see what people can open up to once they’re around it for a few hours,” she said.

When the research group TNO approached her in 2014 about collaborating on a food project using 3-D technology, she immediately eschewed the usual 3-D products.

“I wasn’t going to make a different shape of chocolate or a cookie. I wanted to make something healthy and sustainable,” Rutzerveld says. “I told them, I’ll do it if I can do it my way. They were open, but skeptical.”

For that challenge, Rutzerveld, then 21, came up with the idea for a self-growing healthy snack called Edible Growth, a lab-produced project with living organisms that prints seeds, spore and yeast, acting as a sort of miniature spherical garden and allowing food production at home within three to five days.

“It’s sustainable because it saves on land use and transportation, but I also wanted to show that food produced industrially can be natural and healthy,” she said.

Edible Growth attracted attention from around the world, with dozens of publications writing about it, included Wired and Dezeen, and several prototypes are still circulating in traveling exhibitions. At the time, she acknowledged that the process could take 10 years to become marketable, but no one stepped up to the plate to take the idea from design to product, so Rutzerveld moved on.

While Rutzerveld is not market-driven, she’s excited that her latest project -- STROOOP! – a healthy variation of a stroopwafel, the iconic Dutch cookie, has commercial appeal.

The product came through her usual trial-and-error approach. One day while cooking sweet potatoes for herself, Rutzerveld realized that the juice from the boiled-down spuds reduced into a thick syrup. From there, she tried -- unsuccessfully -- to make nutritious cotton candy.

Meanwhile, she experimented with different root vegetables in her test kitchen and studio space near Strijp S in Eindhoven, discovering that several types produced syrup and contained sturdy fibers.

“I’m not a scientist or a plant biologist, I just want to know things,” she said. “I’m super curious and fascinated with what’s inside what we eat and how it works. So I went to a lot of scientists for information.”

She zeroed in on beets, carrots and celery root, because they make “beautiful syrups,” she said.

“I figured, I’m using Dutch vegetables, let’s use a typical Dutch product.”

Stroopwafels, two small round waffles with a layer of sugary syrup between them, seemed the perfect fit.

“For me, stroopwafels are too dense and sweet, but they are quite lovely, with the warm syrup flowing,” said Rutzerveld, who doesn’t eat meat or processed foods, including sugar and flour. “So I started making the waffles from the vegetable fiber and filling them with the syrup.”

The discovery kept her awake at night, excited about the possibilities.

“Those moments are what I really love, when I think something is amazing and it keeps me busy. Otherwise, I’m quickly bored and on to the next thing.”

For STROOOP! Rutzerveld has partnered with the Brainport based Proverka, located in Helmond which makes vegetable juices and fibers from raw materials that are by-products of vegetables for consumer use. She uses the fiber to make the waffle and syrup from the juice for the filling. She’s also collaborating with ZLTO, the Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organization, which represents some 16,000 farmers and growers in Brabant and the South Netherlands focused on producing healthy food innovatively and sustainably.

STROOOP! will be unveiled at Dutch Design Week 2016, as part of the Agri Meets Design showcase. From there, Rutzerveld hopes to find a partner to produce the healthy cookies commercially.

While her various food products and projects might seem disparate, her aim in all of them is to use food as a way to communicate her beliefs and passions, said Rutzerveld, who grew up in Limburg. She spent her youth swimming competitively and said her parents always encouraged her to give everything her best effort. She took those principles to TU/e, where her self-directed studies gave her the opportunity to explore different facets of food and technology.

Her first commission after graduation was to organize City Dinner Eindhoven in 2014, bringing together leading businesses, research institutes and government leaders to facilitate collaboration and cooperation. All her ingredients were linked to sustainability efforts on the High Tech Campus, where the event was held.

Rutzerveld finds Eindhoven’s energy inspiring.

“I do think there is a vibe of science, technology and innovation here, and my studio is right across from Strijp S, the hipster hotspot,” she said. “Since being here, my network has really expanded and so many people have helped.”

As much as Rutzerveld enjoys designing food projects, she also encourages people to experiment on their own.

“Using whole foods and making new things teaches you how to work with food, experiment, merge flavors and prevents food waste,” she said. “It’s your food. Just try stuff.”

Click here to participate in the STROOOP! workshop 'from veggie to stroopwafel' during the Dutch Design Week

Written by Communications © Brainport Development

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