Could This Digital Cooking Machine Replace Chefs?
Yesterday, The Creators Project released a documentary on bionic chef, Eduardo Garcia—an amputee who uses wearables to enhance his craft, despite having only one hand. He imagined a future of tech-enhanced cooking where a digital prosthetic could test bacterial levels, pH readings, and respond to climate changes. While the future might include kitchens full of bionic chefs equipped with next-level wearables, what about technology that replaces the chef completely? Collaborative Cooking, a digital platform that allows chefs to interact and control a cooking machine remotely from the Internet, may be that impending reality.
Christian Isberg, Petter Johansson Kukacka (PJADAD), Lasse Korsgaard and Carl Berglöf have joined forces (and taste buds) "to explore how we will prepare and discuss our food in the future." In this experiment, they designed a digital platform that turns online dialogue into input that is processed and initiated by a cooking machine. The chefs all work remotely on their own computers, but collectively build a meal.
The cooks can pick 35 differenet ingredients—including spices, veggies, and more—that get mixed by robotic arms and other mechanical parts into a giant pot. The machine then slow-cooks a soup or stew for 10-20 hours, based on information the chefs log into a computer. To track the meal and build a recipe, the machine annotates and prints each step in the process. This is the Internet Of Things making a grand appearance in the kitchen. But could a system like this satisfy your tastebuds or ever win a Michelin star?
"Does cooking require a physical presence?" asks the creators on the project website, "Or is it possible to create and explore through digital platforms and experience food beyond the known limitations?" The video detailing the project doesn't show a final entree, but how crazy would it be if you could tell a computer the food you desire, specifics about your taste preferences (extra salt!), when you want the meal, and how much food you want and then, like magic, a machine whips you up a delicious stew right as you get home from work? It sounds like something out of The Jetsons. Or Smart House.
Obviously, part of the art of cooking is the touch of a human, as well as the happy errors he or she makes—but this cooking machine certainly feels innovative. "This project opens up for an examination around the subject of cooking, dialogue, technology, interactivity and new ways to act in a kitchen," writes the creators.
We don't know if a chef-machine could ever replace the personalized craft of a Ferran Adrià or Mario Batali, but the opportunity for such masters to collaborate on one meal from remote parts of the world with this device sounds fascinating. 35 ingredients isn't a lot to work with, but the thought of dinner cooking itself as we watch Netflix in the other room certainly sounds appealing. Bon appétit.