The kitchen of the future has a fascinating past, and we have shown a lot of them on TreeHugger. I have concluded that all these technological visions of computers baking cakes were never going to come about because really, the kitchen of the future was going to fork in two directions: the minimal and tiny reheating kitchen connected to the supermarket kitchen or the takeout restaurant with delivery by drones or pneumatic tube, or the giant elaborate gourmet party kitchen.
But now Mark Oleynik of Moley Robotics revisits the kitchen of the future as it used to be, where robots did real cooking for you. He had designed a kitchen with robotic arms that learns how to cook complex recipes from top chefs by basically learning and repeating every movement they make. With one recipe,
The cooking skills of Master Chef Tim Anderson, winner of the BBC Master Chef title were recorded on the system - every motion, nuance and flourish – then replayed as his exact movements through the robotic hands.
So instead of cooking your own meal or even ordering from an ordinary restaurant, you instead download a recipe, order up the pre-measured ingredients, and let the robot do its work.
There is no magic, only hands with multiple joints, numerous actuated degrees of freedom, tactile sensors and sophisticated control systems. This is what allows MK1 to download a recipe and reproduce it exactly as the Master Chef would have cooked it, wherever you are in the world.
Imagine, all the Iron Chefs and the Great Chefs of Europe in your kitchen, slicing and dicing and sautéing away. Cheap at $92,000! Writing in Forbes, Eustacia Huen asked a few real live chefs what they thought of the idea, and they pretty consistently were unimpressed, noting:
Professional chefs have to improvise constantly as they prepare dishes. If a recipe says to bake a potato for 25 minutes and the potatoes are more or less dense than the previous batch, then cooking times will vary. I would challenge any machine to make as good a mashed potato (from scratch) as a cook who works for Joel Robuchon. Additionally, pots, pans, ovens, and grills have hot and cold spots. A chef has to quickly improvise and turn sheet pans in ovens, not use certain spots on a grill and certain pans etc.
On the other hand, it will certainly make a mashed potato better than I can. But where I think it fails is in the prep- the pre-packaged, pre-measured and pre-washed ingredients. That is the hard and boring work of cooking that one would most like to farm out to robots; here, somebody in the back room is doing that and the robot is doing all the fun stuff.
Really, this takes up a lot of space, needs to be fed all the ingredients and did I mention, will sell for $ 92,000. It fails in the much the same way all the other kitchens of the future did, because the way many people eat has changed; if they want convenience, then people buy ready-made or takeout. If they like to cook, they do it by hand. This seems to be the worst of both worlds.
It is a lot more likely that the kitchen of the future will be owned by Jeff Bezos, and we will just have reheating stations in our homes. The kitchen of the future is really a thing of the past.
Here are some of the kitchens of the future we have shown in the past: