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Happy Friday, all! Catherine here. Our team’s hard at work putting the finishing touches on the Smart Kitchen Summit (you have your tickets, right?), but it’s been a busy couple of days for news as well.

First and foremost, a few days ago Chris Albrecht uncovered the story that Palate Home, the company behind the Cinder grill, was ordered by a court to pay $294,736 to Tony Fadell’s investment firm, Future Shape LLC. We’ve been following this smart grill, which delivers sous-vide-like precision cooking via a unique two-sided precision heating surface, for the last couple years. But like so many crowdfunded hardware companies before it, Cinder was hitting manufacturing roadblocks and delaying shipping dates to its backers. Which is why Chris looked into it in the first place — and found much more than he bargained for.

We’re not sure if this is a death knell for Cinder, though it certainly seems that way. Stay tuned for updates.

In positive news,, a company which is working to create the “blockchain for food,” just raised a $2.4 million seed round. Mike Wolf spoke with Raja Ramachandran, the company’s CEO and co-founder on his podcast last year. Here’s how he explained the concept behind his startup:

If a farmer wants to say I harvest strawberries these two days, well, they can say that, but do they say that to everyone? … That’s the beauty of blockchain. It manages the decentralized nature of the food business, so people can post data, they can protect it, they can share it, they can create records with it… In the end for the consumer, they basically get a longer record. is capitalizing off of two trends: blockchain madness, and people’s desire for increased food transparency. If the company can successfully create the blockchain for food — something that others like Goodr and FoodLogiQ are already playing around with — then consumers can instantly know a plethora of details about their food: where it was produced, when it was harvested, whether it’s organic/GMO, etc. Ramachandran will be at the Smart Kitchen Summit (SKS) discussing blockchain’s potential within the food system, so join us there to hear more.

The ability to trace the origin of your food with 100% accuracy is a good thing, but what if you could bring the farm to you? That’s exactly what Freight Farms, a company which creates “Leafy Green Machines” — that is, climate-controlled vertical farms in shipping containers — is trying to do.

Excited to see new ideas for recreating the future of food and cooking? We announced our Startup Showcase winners this week, so you’ll want to check them out!

Jenn Marston wrote about their new Grown service this week, which helps Freight Farms customers manage temperature, water usage, and other aspects of the indoor farm units so that they can grow produce with super-limited space. Jenn’s optimistic that this tech could allow institutions — like public schools and hospitals — to have access to super-fresh, healthy greens (and more). While smaller scale than Freight Farms, Estonian smart indoor grow system Natufia raised $1.2 million this week.

The PicoBrew Z brewing system

In other news, Mike Wolf covered PicoBrew’s initial shipment of their Z Series, a modular brewing system that lets home beer creators scale up to make 10 gallons per brew. They may have delayed the Kickstarter for their Pico U, but this shipment shows that PicoBrew is still kicking — er, brewing.

Chris also covered NEXT Future Transportation’s new mobile lockers, which are yet another step towards a future in which autonomous vehicles deliver us our groceries and pizza along with our packages. For those who still want a retail experience in the future, however, the convenience store will probably still be there — it just might look different. Read Chris’ piece on Dirty Lemon’s new cashierless, honor system-run pop-up store to see how.

Finally, this week I wrote about all the food I tasted at last week’s inaugural Good Food Conference. It’s a smorgasbord of plant-based products, from vegan sausages to eggs made of mung beans. Check it out.

Smart Kitchen Summit is a mere three and a half weeks away, and it’s shaping up to be our best one yet. Just check out our program and speakers if you don’t believe me. Don’t get left behind — use the discount code NEWSLETTER to get 25% off of tickets (just click here to have the discount applied automatically via Eventbrite).

Have a great weekend!

In the 09/14/2018 edition:

John Pleasants Thinks the Oven of the Future is Powered by Light

By Catherine Lamb on Sep 14, 2018 10:02 am
We at the Spoon have long been curious about Brava, the stealthy smart kitchen startup which recently debuted its first product: an oven which uses the power of light to cook food quickly and precisely, with low energy usage. See him at the Smart Kitchen Summit in October.

Walmart Acquires Cornershop, While Gets in a New York State of Mind

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 14, 2018 08:50 am
Walmart announced yesterday that it is expanding its digital presence in Latin America with the $225 million acquisition of Cornershop, an online marketplace for on-demand delivery from supermarkets in Mexico and Chile. While that move continued the retail giant’s global spending spree, domestically, the company’s subsidiary unveiled a revamped website featuring enhanced grocery delivery options.

Dirty Lemon’s New Pop Up is Part of a Convenience Store Revolution

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 13, 2018 03:48 pm
Dirty Lemon, a startup that sells fancy water infused with ingredients like charcoal, CBD and collagen for more than $10 a pop, made The New York Times today with its new pop-up store in New York that puts you on the honor system when you pay.

Mod Pods! NEXT Future Transportation Announces Mobile Lockers

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 13, 2018 12:19 pm
A lot of transportation in old sci-fi movies was pod-based. People would travel through futuristic cities in quiet, autonomous, sleek pods that picked them up and dropped them off. What those movies missed, and is now becoming a reality, are fleets of pods running around to bring us our packages, restaurant food and groceries.

A Plant-Based Tour of What I Ate at the Good Food Conference

By Catherine Lamb on Sep 13, 2018 09:00 am
From vegan sausages by Beyond Meat to mung bean scrambled eggs from JUST, here’s a culinary tour through all the plant-based foods I tried at the Good Food Conference last week.

FoodShot Global Launches Fund to Land Food Moonshots

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 13, 2018 06:30 am
We know that there is no shortage of food-related accelerators helping get the next generation of startups off the ground. But FoodShot Global, a new investment platform that launched today, doesn’t just want to get startups off the ground: it wants them to aim for the moon.

Court Ordered Cinder Grill Maker to Repay Tony Fadell’s Investment Firm $294,736

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 12, 2018 11:00 am
Palate Home, the company behind the Cinder grill, was ordered by a San Mateo court in August to pay $294,736 to Tony Fadell’s investment firm, Future Shape LLC. The default judgment compels Palate Home to repay a $250,000 loan to Future Shape plus $43,737 in interest as well as $999 in costs.

Impossible Sliders Roll Out at all White Castles Nationwide

By Catherine Lamb on Sep 12, 2018 10:18 am
Today Impossible Foods, the company famous for their plant-based “bleeding” burgers, announced today that it’s expanding its partnership with fast food chain White Castle. The Impossible slider is now available in all of White Castle’s 377 locations, from New York to St. Louis.

PicoBrew Ships Z Series, A Modular Brewing System for Aspiring Craft Brewing Pros

By Michael Wolf on Sep 12, 2018 09:00 am
PicoBrew announced this week that the first Picobrew Z1 has rolled off the production line and made its way to the customer, local food pioneer Ron Zimmerman of the Herbfarm. As you might recall, the Picobrew Z series is PicoBrew’s attempt to fill the gap between the home and pro markets with a modular brewing system.

Freight Farms Unveils Onsite Vertical Farming Service

By Jennifer Marston on Sep 12, 2018 06:00 am
Your average institution, be it schools, company, hospital, or university, typically doesn’t have the space or cash to consider an indoor farming initiative, even if it would mean putting fresher, more local greens into cafeterias and dining halls. That’s an issue Freight Farms looks to solve with the release of its new service Grown.

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