Thursday, October 28, 2010

Incremental Cooking Automation

A long time ago, I proposed automated cooking, which quite a few people expressed interest in. It's a tricky task, one that I think we'll have to do with incremental evolution, the way that Wright brother's bicycle-like plane that flew slower than I can walk evolved into the supersonic jet. one step at a time.
Some things are more automated now than before. Hand-mixing has mostly given way to mixing machines. Tortillas used to be rolled out by hand, but are now mostly made with a massive metal contraption that rolls them evenly flat, tosses them into a heated area for baking, and produces a picture perfect tortilla every single time. There are bread machines that kneed, rise, and bake the bread, requiring the consumer to add the ingredients and plug it in. These steps are the increments. They do one thing perfectly well. When one of these exists for everything, then the automated kitchen that I described can be made. By integrating one of everything.
Take the tortilla-maker. If I have a food nozzle, a sauce nozzle, a cheese dispenser, and a folding machine, I can combine all of these into a machine that grinds out tortillas and enchiladas. Food factories already have such things, but they don't run all the time. People like a variety of foods, so only so many burritos and so many enchiladas are made, and then those things go back into storage while the factory is set up for something completely different, like chicken pot pie, or crab bisque, or borsch. These are often also at least semi-automated, because the machines work faster and cheaper than humans.
Since I don't work in the food industry, I could not tell you what still needs automation. More complicated dishes, probably. I have yet to hear of a automated risotto machine, or a souffle maker. This is probably due to low demand. Anyone who really wants a souffle is generally willing to hire a professional chef to do so.
I think in the meantime, machines that can do some simple things could be installed in the kitchen and made to cook for you every day, if you really don't like cooking and don't mind having a limited number of things to eat. A limit that goes up every time a new technology is developed and installed.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...