When my colleague first shared this article about robots cooking in the kitchen, I thought it sounded ridiculous. On second glance, you’ll see that this concept is already being tested and successfully carried out in Germany and here in the U.S. That’s right – a robot that can baste, boil, blanch and blend and create your favorite meal. If this modern day Jetsons-inspired sous chef takes off, I predict it may become the ultimate kitchen appliance for restaurants. Should the concept become more common, it would certainly raise a lot of questions about the pros and cons.
First, let’s look at some of the pros. For starters, there’s the consistency factor. The use of this technology would allow restaurant operations to ensure a consistent looking and tasting product every single time. While fast food operations can be counted on for consistency because their food tastes the same wherever you are, upscale restaurants could benefit from a technology that removes the possibility for human error. Another upside is speed. Robots would be able to deliver a finished product at a fraction of the time it would take a human and faster output can lead to increased sales. Lastly, there’s the cost which plays a big role in a commercial kitchen. While the price tag on one of these robots is still unclear, it would eventually pay itself off. In fact, according to Eater, the Fight for $15 movement which hopes to implement a law in every state requiring a $15 an hour minimum hourly wage is a motivation for robotic kitchen workers that would eventually cut costs for foodservice operations.
Bringing us to some of the cons…..
According to the United States Department of Labor, there were over 4.7 million people working as food and beverage servers in the U.S. in 2014. That’s a lot of jobs. Robots couldn’t replace humans in upscale operations altogether but could pose a huge threat to those working in fast food operations. This also got me thinking about food and technology and the interesting way they’ve come together over the past decade – from clicking a button to order a pizza, having your groceries delivered to your doorstep, taking pictures of our food instead of each other and now the potential for robots to replace humans in kitchens. Are we slowly destroying the value of human interaction?
What do you think? Could robots be the wave of the future or the demise of dining out?