Software will eat the kitchen – or, will it?

Jon Jenkins, Director of Engineering at Hestan Smart Labs (the company behind the Hestan Cue), is a very smart man. In the above video from the Smart Kitchen Summit, Jenkins talks about how software can revolutionize the way that home cooks use recipes, eliminating human error to help them achieve the same high-quality results every time—just like a restaurant.

It’s an interesting thought and a fascinating video. In some instances, the future Jenkins describes is already here. Sous Vide machines, which lead to guaranteed and consistent results, are now available for $150 or less. Scales are getting smart, automatically adjusting recipes to fit available ingredients.

However, I do think that Jon is making a classic engineer’s mistake when he compares restaurant food to home cooked food. Restaurant food is designed to showcase skill and consistency. But the home cook’s primary motivation is love and care for the person he or she cooks for. Here, effort and emotion often trump technical skills.

If my kids make pancakes for breakfast on a Sunday morning that aren’t technically perfect, I’ll still be proud of them. They, in return, would bask in our praise and happiness – an eating occasion was transformed into a situation where children and parents demonstrated their love for each other.

But, if they employ a kitchen robot that creates perfect pancakes every time I’d still be grateful for breakfast, but the pride and my kid’s sense of accomplishment would be greatly diminished.

For engineers, inconsistency is undesirable. But for human beings, inconsistency, and imperfection is sometimes a powerful way to communicate very human emotions.

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