We had our first food tech meetup last night! And thanks to our sponsor ChefSteps, tech-brewed beer from PicoBrew, and our awesome venue Galvanize, it was a rollicking success. Plus we had a very cool panel: Alicia Cervini from Allrecipes, Cliff Sharples from Fexy Media, and Jess Voelker from Chefsteps had a great conversation with The Spoon’s Michael Wolf.

If you missed it, here are a few topics and points that really stood out to us. Prepare yourself: the future of recipes is very dynamic, very shoppable, and tastes good — every time.

P.S. Mark your calendars for our next meetup on the future of meat on May 24th! Register here to make sure you get a spot.

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So what’s the future of recipes then?
All of our panelists agreed that in the future, recipes will be very responsive and dynamic:

Allrecipes’ Alicia Cervini said they are exploring completely customizable meal kits based on their recipes. They have a relationship with Chef’d to work on their vision of “making a dynamically generated meal kit on the fly,” pairing convenience with customization.

Fexy’s Cliff Sharples predicted that as people take a deeper interest in food (he said that 50% of millennials consider themselves “foodies”) recipe customization would become more and more popular. He also had an interesting app idea where users could plug in their dinner guests with all of their eating profiles and plan a menu.

ChefSteps’ Jess Voelker envisions a future where technology can help people become a better cook. She brought up the interesting concept of using AI to troubleshoot their recipes. So if your cake went flat or your food was too salty, ChefSteps could help you figure out where you went wrong. 

Voice interfaces alone are incomplete
All of our panelists agreed that, when it comes to cooking from a recipe, voice alone isn’t all that useful — cooking is just too visual. Sure, if the recipe instructions are short enough, you could cook an entire recipe just with a voice assistant. And, as Voelker pointed out, 
“it can solve some real problems just in time, like if you have chicken grease on your hand and need to know something.” But without a visual guide, like a connected screen, you often end up having to break down steps into even smaller steps, which takes more time than if you’d just read the recipe. 

So while voice assistants like Alexa may be a helpful tool if your hands are mucked up in the kitchen, as of now they’re most useful for playing news or podcasts while you cook. The panelists did, however, seem optimistic about the combination of video and voice. (Or maybe an all-in-one robot chef assistant?)

Are recipes just data?
During the meetup Sharples likened recipes to code, which is the driving force behind smart appliances, the shoppable recipe journey, and recipe search tools. If you’re a regular Spoon reader this might remind you of Jon Jenkin’s talk at last year’s Smart Kitchen Summit, where he made the claim that we are all eating software. 

Mike Wolf made the point that with recipe integration and connected appliances like the Joule, you could essentially have a celebrity chef cook your meal for you in your own kitchen. Sort of.

For example: you could select a steak recipe from kitchen gadget-loving chef Kenji Alt-Lopez on your connected app and your device would precisely follow his cooking instructions, giving you a consistent, high-quality result. It’s almost like having Kenji himself sous vide a steak for you, every time. (Which, for many food nerds, is a dream come true.)

Recipes are becoming more important, in different ways
All of our panelists agreed that the recipe is not the least bit dead. In fact, they argued that the recipe is becoming more important; it’s the core atomic unit of the rapidly evolving meal journey.

The hardest part, which isn’t surprising, is making recipes that tick all the boxes for such a wide variety of needs. But with apps like PlantJammer and Ckbk, plus the convenience of services like 2-hour grocery delivery and meal kits, it doesn’t seem like the recipe is going anywhere anytime soon.


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