In a recent post on the future of the kitchen, Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell and I agreed that enclosed "messy kitchens" are where most food would be prepared. I noted in an earlier post that the way we prepared food was changing:
What has happened in the last fifty years is that we have outsourced our cooking; first to frozen and prepared foods, then to fresh prepared foods that you buy in the supermarket, and now trending to online ordering.
The concept has evolved a lot since TV dinners. Now, you can ping companies like Blue Apron and they will deliver all the ingredients for a perfect meal. “Following our step-by-step instructions you’ll experience the magic of cooking recipes that our chefs create with your family’s tastes in mind.”
But following step-by-step instructions is hard, which is why we got TV dinners that you just stuck in the oven. People want easy. That’s where Miele’s new smart Dialog oven comes into play. Introduced last year, it is a combination low-frequency microwave oven, convection oven and radiant oven all connected to a computer. It is so slick that you can somehow cook a piece of fish in ice or veal in beeswax without them melting. It can also somehow cook different things at the same time.
But its latest trick is the most interesting. Miele has started MChef, a service like Blue Apron that delivers the ingredients for a meal that you cook at home. But there are no step-by-step instructions; it just needs to be stuck in the smart Dialog oven, which knows what to do. According to the press release:
Exquisite plated dishes or entire three-course menus wait to be ordered. When they arrive on the customer's doorstep, the ingredients are already appealingly arranged on elegant porcelain plates – ready to be cooked to perfection in a dialog oven. Orders received online by 12.30 h will be delivered the next day, 365 days a year. Up to six dishes can be prepared in a dialog oven simultaneously. The programme with the correct settings is launched direct from the MChef app. The average cooking time is 20 minutes.
Three properties above all put the MChef in good stead: that different ingredients are cooked to perfection at the same time, the superior quality achieved and its unbeatable speed. Mistakes during preparation are virtually eliminated by virtue of the fact that all users need to do is to simply place the plates with the food into the dialog oven which is then started from the MChef app with the appropriate settings.
It’s not like ordering Chinese Food or prepared meals from the supermarket where you are scooping food onto your plates. It’s not like Blue Apron, where you are using their ingredients but still doing some of the work. It’s a complete meal set up on a plate, that tells your oven what the step by step instructions are.
Patents have been applied for covering the packaging on porcelain and the innovative carryout container as the shipping of finished meals on plates by dispatch courier services is new. The carryout containers offer space for up to eight dishes, wine and Champagne in up to four different climatic zones ranging from -18°C and +18°C and keeps food fresh for up to 24 hours. Once removed from the container, menus can be stored at the appropriate temperature for up to five days. The transport packaging including the used crockery is picked up and returned to the supplier by a courier.
There are some green advantages.
- The plate, and the box it comes in, is reusable;
- There is very little food waste in central kitchens;
- There will be very little waste at in the home if portions are appropriately sized;
- The biggest source of waste is probably in the delivery, but carting all the ingredients home and storing them in the fridge has a cost too
It is the ultimate extrapolation of how people eat today, where for most people, the kitchen is a reheating station and a waste management station for all the take-out containers. Occasionally it becomes an entertainment station for the cooking as hobby types.
It is hard to believe that TV dinners were actually invented as a way to get consumers to use more aluminum after the Second World War when there was so much production capacity and so little demand. But the promise from 60 years ago is exactly the same as that of the Dialog-MChef concept: “each hearty dinner comes complete in its own heating-serving tray- is piping ready in 25 minutes or less, no work before and no dishes after.”
Then, it was a novelty; today it is pretty much a reality for most people. That’s why the kitchen as we know it will disappear, probably first in small apartments, where it might just be a Dialog oven in the wall, looking much like a Star Trek replicator, and a Keurig on the coffee table.
We have had fun with all these high-tech kitchens of the future from the fifties and sixties with their computers and robots, but really, it is looking more and more that the kitchen of the future might be no kitchen at all.