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When it comes to dining out, your average person wants at least some consistency in the way their food is made. But at what point does consistency and predictability cross the line and become . . . boring?
I started thinking about this when writing about Nectar, which provides IoT-enabled bottle caps that monitor in real time how much booze is poured. Sure, for bar owners, this granular detail provides greater inventory management. But if a bartender knows they are being watched, will that then kill their creativity when it comes to mixology? Will they just dutifully pour the exact amount each time to keep a manager off their back?
For drinks it may not be as big a deal, because you typically don’t go to a bar for the taste of a cocktail. You go to be social, the drinks help fuel that.
But what happens when this type of real-time data insight comes to the restaurant and starts dictating every inch of the food journey there — from menu planning to which ingredients get bought and how they are used — to optimize dishes for portion control and popularity? Further, what happens to dining out when robots move further into the kitchen and make meals exactly the same way each time, every time?
It’s a question I pondered over the weekend in my post Will Data Ruin Dining Out? It’s an issue that’s only going to get bigger as more tech enters the restaurant space, and I’d love your thoughts on the subject. Do you think Google Analytics-style insights coupled with automation eradicate everything interesting on the menu?
Nailed it! BeeHex Creates Cake Decorating Robot
I realize I literally just asked if automation can put consistency in danger of becoming boring, but there are occasions when you do want that precision every time. Think specially decorated cookies for an event like a wedding or a convention.
This week, Mike Wolf covered Beehex, a startup that’s built a decorating robot that “prints” frosting on to cakes and cookies. The bot can finish 15 to 21, quarter sheet cakes in an hour, or somewhere between 120 to 500 cookies. This, according to the company is 66 percent more efficient than a human decorator.
This Beehex 3D Decorator isn’t cheap, coming in at $65,000 (or $1,600 a month lease). But for large-scale grocers or bakeries, it’s not hard to imagine them paying up for a machine that can essentially decorate 24 hours a day, every day.
Though perhaps wedding guests would prefer cookies with the bride and groom’s faces printed on them.
Last Chance to Register for The Spoon’s Food Tech Accelerator Fireside Event
If you want to take part in some lively discussion around food tech, you can do so at The Spoon’s new Food Tech Fireside online event. Every month, we’ll hold a virtual sit down with one or two food industry innovators and invite the audience to join in the talk via written questions.
We kick the series off this week with Tessa Price of WeWork Food Labs and Peter Bodenheimer from Food-X talking about food accelerators: what they are, what they’re not, and which companies and entrepreneurs should consider them as a path towards growth.
The event takes place May 30 at 10:00 a.m. PDT/1:00 p.m. EDT. Full details are here.