Today, The New York Times ran an article about the rise of robotic chefs, including the new granola-bar-delivering Snackbot at Carnegie Mellon University and the omelet-making Chief Cook bot in Switzerland. From Japanese restaurants where robots make Ramen to entire conventions devoted to mechanized methods for preparing everything from sushi to sliced veggies, it appears that RoboCop is out and RoboChef is in. (Insert ‘dead or alive, you’re eating with me’ joke here).
Of course, I already have a robot that makes Ramen – it’s called the microwave. But it doesn’t have a jaunty chef’s hat and cute little googly eyes. So I suppose there are worse things modern technology could be churning out. Although, as an avowed foodie, a former foodservice employee and a long-time proponent of the ancient Jewish philosophy of ‘food is love,’ I’m not sure mechanical chefs can ever really replace the flesh and blood kind.
Sure, robots can slice and dice as methodically (or maybe even more so) as the best sous chef. But they can’t take a quick break to dirty dance with a waitress to whatever salsa tune is on the stereo. Or pour a tequila shot between services. Or freeze half to death looking for some long-lost root vegetable in the walk in and then spend the rest of the day complaining about it. And they certainly can’t taste the food they prepare. Which, as far as I’m concerned, eliminates all the excitement and passion from the cooking process. Not to mention the tastebuds.
So although the gadget-geek side of me thinks a sushi-rolling robot is pretty darn cool, the side of me that loves food – and loves all the madcap behind-the-scenes drama and passion that goes into preparing it (and in most cases, preparing it well) – isn’t such a fan of seeing my chefs du jour replaced by chefs du circuitboard.
Not that I would argue with a robot making my morning toast. I just don’t want any Termibroilers taking over the food world full-force. Although having a chef with machine guns for arms might help cut down on those obnoxious diners who insist on sending their food back fifty times right in the middle of a rush.