As I’ve confessed before, there are two food tech-related things I absolutely adore: Beyond Burgers and my June oven. Now, thanks to a software update earlier this week, those two things are the peanut butter and chocolate in my connected kitchen world, as the June sports new automated cook programs for Beyond Meat burgers and sausages.
While the news isn’t earth-shattering, it’s a reflection of both how plant-based meats are becoming more mainstream, and how smart cooking appliances will need to get specific when presenting users with a touchscreen full of pre-programmed cooking options.
I haven’t had a chance to test out the new plant-based cooking June features yet, so I have some questions. For instance, regular beef burgers on the June are cooked on a grill that raises the burgers above the pan. Why are Beyond burgers cooked directly on the pan? FWIW, I’ve cooked Beyond patties in the June following the beef instructions, and they turn out just fine (though I’m excited to try out this new feature!).
Also, will the camera automatically tell the difference between a Beyond burger and a meat one? And as June rolls out more “meat” cooking options, will Beyond get its own button a la the Whole Foods option?
One has to wonder how far down the rabbit hole June will go. Beef is beef is beef, so you can pretty easily create universal cook programs for the different cuts of it. But Impossible’s plant-based burgers are coming to grocery stores this year, and June already told us that they will get their own cook program. What about Nestle’s Incredible burgers? Not to mention all the plant-based chicken and fish coming to market. And what will all these choices mean for June’s limited UI space? How many decision trees will a user have to cook what they want?
Phew! That’s a lot of questions. Thankfully, we reached out to June and will update this piece when we hear back.
But it’s not just June that will need to grapple with these issues. Any smart oven manufacturer, like Brava, Markov, or Whirlpool, will also have to figure out its strategy for dealing with the variety of new foods that are being created. Our choices, as it were, are just getting warmed up.