Bear Robotics' food-running robot Penny makes a surprise visit to the stage.

The first panel of the 2018 Smart Kitchen Summit (SKS) North America started out not with a bang, but with a beep. Just after Jon Jenkins, Director of Engineering at Hestan Smart Cooking, Dana Cowin, former Editor in Chief of Food & Wine, and Michael Wolf got settled, self-driving robot Penny glided out onto the stage to bring them some water.

This little interruption was actually the perfect way to introduce their panel: The Disrupted Meal Journey. As automation edges its way further and further into our lives and our food, how will that transform the kitchen? Will people still cook in the future, or will they opt purely for food delivery — or just have a robot cook their meal for them?

Don’t worry. The panelists were confident that the kitchen wasn’t going to fully disappear: as long as it could use technology not only to make cooking easier, but also more exciting and emotional.

“If what we’re selling is purely sustenance, you don’t need a kitchen,” Jenkins stated. “We’ve got to hope we’re getting something more out of cooking.” Cowin agreed, adding that home meal preparation should leverage technology to become more “personalized, exciting, and diverse.”

Watch the video below to see the full panel, and hear Cowin and Jenkins’ predictions on how kitchens will have to adjust to survive in the age of ever-growing automation and delivery.

Look out for more videos of the panels, solo talks, and fireside chats from SKS 2018! We’ll be bringing them to you hot and fresh out the (smart) kitchen over the next few weeks.

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