The restaurant of the future: Run by robots with computers as chefs
Published Friday, July 6, 2018 9:44AM EDT
Diners at Spyce, a restaurant in downtown Boston that opened in May, order via a touchscreen and watch as one of seven autonomous woks gathers ingredients and whips up a cooked meal in about three minutes.
Restaurants like Spyce, which have replaced all chefs with robots, could soon be ubiquitous, futurist Nikolas Badminton told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.
“Automation in the kitchen is not really that new,” Badminton said. “But now there are great new restaurants that are making burgers, doing pizzas and doing all sort of prep automatically with consistency and without humans being involved.”
Though diners may miss the touch of a human chef, Badminton added that meals prepared by robot chefs could be more affordable for diners and “taste even better” than those prepared by humans.
Automation in the kitchen will also shake up the science of food pairings, Badminton said. Apps, with built-in knowledge about tasty flavour combinations, will provide home chefs with ideas about what kinds of ingredients should be combined in a dish—knowledge that some Michelin star chefs take a lifetime to learn.
James Briscione, the director of culinary development at the New York-based Institute of Culinary Education, worked with Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, which used artificial intelligence and machine learning to spit out novel food pairings and recipes on demand.
While Watson was able to come up with delicious and unexpected food combinations, Briscione told NPR that the supercomputer could not match a human chef’s knowledge of things like flavour and texture.
Disruption in the restaurant industry will come not just from automation and artificial intelligence, but also from changing demographic trends.
Millennials, who regularly use food delivery apps such as Uber Eats or Foodora that make it easy to order food with the touch of a button, are three times more likely to order in than their parents are. The Swiss investment bank UBS last week published a report suggesting that the online food market could grow 10 times by 2030.
“There could be a scenario where by 2030, most meals currently cooked at home are instead ordered online and delivered from either restaurants or central kitchens,” the report said.
This will make going to restaurants “much more of a premium experience,” Badminton told CTV’s Your Morning.
What diners will be eating when they do decide to swap an Uber Eats home delivery meal for one prepared in a restaurant will also change, as more and more people adopt plant-based diets.
“We’re starting to really veer toward a world where we’re not eating meat,” Badminton said. “Meat replacement products are even making it into the beef aisles. It’s going to be really disruptive in that area.”