Product Design

The Multiple Uses of iPads, Also Known as "Not Plates"

January  6, 2017

At the end of last month, news broke that Quince, a triple Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco, has begun serving a white truffle croquette dish called “A Dog in Search of Gold” on top of an iPad. This iPad—which, I guess it needs to be said, is a tablet computer marketed by Apple—loops a video of dogs foraging for truffles in a forest.

I'm having some trouble assessing what's going on in the photo above, so here's what Quince chef Michael Tusk had to say in the article, published by Mercury News. “Living in San Francisco for over 20 years, I have witnessed the tech boom and I wanted to combine a little bit of gastronomy with technology and a little bit of education,” he explained. Interesting. Guests were apparently curious about where truffles come from, so Tusk took it upon himself to educate them through an iPad. To quell any panic about sanitation, Tusk took to Facebook to make clear that there’s a removable plexi sheath that’s washed after each meal; the covered iPad is then placed in “a custom walnut box” for serving.

But an iPad is not a plate, I muttered to myself, dazed, last week. Like me, some perceived this as a curious culinary stunt to pull in a city with stark class divides, fueled in large part by that very technocratic boom that Tusk cites. A gesture like Quince's seems emblematic of a particularly insular, myopic dining culture. This apparent trend isn’t new, and it certainly isn’t unique to San Francisco. Restaurants across “the pond” in the United Kingdom and Spain have done it.

Perhaps my aversion to this stems from the fact that I've never had an iPad. It costs a lot of money I don't have. If I were to own one, I wouldn't put my food on it. I'd nurture it like I would my firstborn. I'm down for people getting creative with food surfaces, but this one strikes me as unnecessary. So, I have a suggestion: As a culture, maybe we should revisit what iPads are meant for.

Reading

Read your child their favorite e-book; read your favorite Danielle Steele novel. Go crazy. Read. Amazon Kindle, Google Books, whatever.

Watching videos

A treasured YouTube video with your loved one. A full-length movie on Dailymotion. Netflix. Hulu. Et cetera.

Typing

Did you know you could type on your iPad? Well, you can. Type a note to yourself. Draft an email. Work in a Google Doc.

Sending messages

Missives can take many forms on iPads. An e-mail, an iMessage. Both. You get to choose. It's your iPad, after all.

Snapping photos

Take a photo of a landscape you'll always treasure. Even turn the camera on yourself. Wouldn't that be fun?

Playing games

Does Minesweeper come on iPads? Solitaire? I don't know. I'm sure they do. Play any game you'd like. It's your iPad.

...And that's the case for not eating food on an iPad. I hope I've made myself clear.

Thoughts on this trend? What’s the weirdest food surface you’ve ever eaten on? Let us know in the comments.

5 Comments

Ben H. January 19, 2017
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Franca January 7, 2017
They added some atmosphere and moving imagery to their dining experience. Shame on you for looking down upon anyone's creativity.
 
V January 7, 2017
It's just plain disgusting to see an iPad used as a plate, when you think about how it's been made, by low-wages workers in China, using minerals mined in Africa by children, and just used like a plate to entertain rich people at dinner. How disgusting. Sham on you for even thinking that it's a good idea.
 
Greenstuff January 6, 2017
When iPads were new, that is, before all the shops and restaurants in my neighbor had me pay by signing my name with my finger, there was a great German video making the rounds. A daughter asks her dad how he likes the iPad she bought him. He says Great!, then whips it out, chops a lot of vegetables on it, slides the vegetables off, and puts the iPad in his dishwasher.
 
Smaug January 6, 2017
Emblematic? Symptomatic, maybe- it seems inevitable that, if we are to have from eleven to twenty three restaurants on every city block they will get pretty desperate to attract attention- ignore them and they will eventually go away.