“Food is very, very dumb compared to robots.” Ali Bouzari made his case onstage at our ArticulATE food robotics conference last month. “It’s incredibly complex, it’s cumbersome, unyielding, and frustratingly ornate in a way that does not lend itself to innovation.”

So do we just give up and assume there are no new ways to make food? Not exactly. Bouzari, who founded culinary consultancy Pilot R&D and packaged food company Render, actually thinks that automation can help give us better eating experiences… within reason.

It’s pretty obvious how robots can help deliver food or run orders in a restaurant. They never get sick, they don’t need to take breaks, and they won’t drop a dish or mess up your order. But when it comes to making food taste better, even automation has to work within the confines of food science. As Bouzari put it: “Starch is gonna starch.” And that makes food robotics unique.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of room for robots and automation to shake up the food we’re eating — it just means we have to be really strategic about how we do it. Because in the end, “food is going to call the shots.”

Watch the video below to see Bouzari’s full talk on how robots can work within the limitations of food science, and check back for more of our full sessions from ArticulATE 2019.

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