Restaurants are based on the same principles as software. There is a frontend and backend. The frontend, for both software and restaurants, tries to please the user or customer by creating an easy, simple, yet aesthetically pleasing experience. Restaurants have used technology and software to make this experience better for patrons, with advancements like point-of-sale systems automating servers’ tabs, instead of requiring them to add up bills by hand, and online reservation systems, which allows patrons to avoid waiting in long lines or calling in on the phone.
However, the backend of restaurants, aka the kitchen, has not experienced as many upgrades in recent years because software is simply not as relevant in the kitchen. Yes, appliances have improved, but chefs still use the same basic techniques to make delicious dishes. With the growth of the internet of things (IoT), however, chefs can utilize smart devices to better control, maintain and explore new recipes in their kitchens.
While smart refrigerators can be a nifty thing for consumers to show off to their friends, a restaurant can use them optimize food purchases. Internet-connected refrigerators have the ability to record how long certain food items have been stored in the refrigerator and determine how close the food is to spoiling. Smart refrigerators can alert chefs each morning, so that they know either what to purchase or what ingredients need to be cooked that day. With help from the appliance, a chef can decide the menu for the day. These smart refrigerators can go as far as to automatically order more ingredients for users when stock is running low.
Going one step further: In a totally connected world where the frontend and backend collide, a patron could make a reservation online and note that they have a specific food allergy. The refrigerator could include this in the alert to the chef and suggest ingredients to purchase or use that comply with the allergy. In this scenario, the benefits of a smart refrigerator are not only useful to a chef, but can save the restaurant money as well as boost its reputation, both of which are essential for today’s dining establishments.
With sensor IoT technology, the benefits for a kitchen are seemingly endless, but here are a few more quick examples of kitchen problems that smart devices can solve:
Over or undercooking
This is always a major concern for any chef, but with smart pots and pans, the possibility becomes nearly impossible. By sensing how thoroughly something is cooked, whether this be meat in an oven or sauce in a pot, the appliance could alert the chef of the food when it is done.
A challenging aspect of cooking is timing all the dishes so that everyone’s food is fresh and hot when served. Aligning the completion of food for the same table, when one particular dish takes longer to cook than another, can be difficult. With IoT appliances, the chef could better time the preparation with the appliances themselves, accurately estimating the length of cook time.
Precise amount of ingredients
The last thing a chef wants to do is misrepresent an ingredient in an order. If the recipe calls for a teaspoon of salt, but a cook adds a tablespoon, it probably will not taste great. However, if the appliance, with the use of sensor technology, could determine the sodium level, or measure the amount of other ingredients, it could inform the chef that they made a mistake. Again, this would help avoid any complaints from customers.
It is difficult to say whether or not restaurants would be willing to adopt such smart appliances. The art of cooking has been done the same way for a long time. However, these simple benefits of IoT kitchen appliances can help a restaurant turn a profit and improve or maintain a pristine reputation. While some of these functions from appliances are still years away, IoT is nonetheless making an impact on the appliance market.