The Disrupted Meal Journey
Hey, this is Mike wolf welcome to the smirk and show. Today's episode is the audio from the very first session at this year's market to summit where I had John Jenkins and Dina Cowan, and we basically asked a couple questions we asked about you know, is the kitchen of the future even going to be there. We also just talked about what were these guys see the world going coming from very different perspectives. If you don't know Dana Callan, you should she's the longtime editor a food and wine. She's also the host of own podcast called called. Speaking broadly, Shechem recorded a couple podcast episodes at the show, they she actually publishing those now one jasmine crow of gooder and one of Amy gross with the mind south. And so you can check out for a look out for those. But our conversation with with John was really just kind of setting the table for the rest of the conference. And as you hear at the beginning. We actually have a visit from penny which was a robot. That was actually at the show she she came out and gave us water kind of a funnel forest to be in the show. But that's really hoping to have this conversation. I want to thank all of you for who came to smirk it to summit for those. You didn't hoping joy this podcast? A we'll be having more of the next few weeks from the show. It's also good to be back. We took a little bit of a break. After after the summit. We've been kind of busy publishing articles at the spoon. If you haven't checked out the spoon, spoon dot tech. Where we the way this news and analysis about what's happening in the future, food and just FYI. If you don't know this ready, you should know if you subscribe to the newsletter, we will actually be at CS with really the only Techint in Vegas during see. Yes. We're actually going to be having this event called Clive go to smirk some dot com and look for that you could Google food tech and see us you'll see us at the top. There. Just check it out. This event is is focused on basically showing product there. That's what is all about. So we have some great we have thirty or so companies already signed up to show off their products. So if you're. Member of the press feel free to sign up. If you're part of our community just ask for ticket. And now will prove you and we're looking forward to seeing you there in Vegas earthquakes for now. Let's get the podcast. Us one water. All right. Can we? That's one seen before. So. Yeah, thanks for coming up. I'm super excited. We're gonna grab some water here from penny, by the way, we have some water on your house. There's a tablet. I think you guys me. Chris Albrecht mentioned we're using the seeing experimenting with I think called slight. So is online pool if you go to slide dot com put in smart catch and eighteen you can ask questions. So we're going to try and do a question to at the very end from the audience. We'll see if we can do that. But I'm going to take a little Talbot to let me look that water guys. So even for my opening talk. And you know, what I love about talking to you guys to kick it off pinning. Is you come from very different perspectives. Right. Roseanne? You're managing food and wine for twenty years. JJ technologist. And so when I think about the recreation of the meal journey and the disruption of it. It is kind of this intersection too old and new in terms of kind of the way were were bringing new technology to thing that we've been doing for since the beginning of time. So let me start with you Dana we had earlier conversation. What are you most excited about a more skeptical about in terms of technology when it comes to our relationship? I'm excited about technology in that in the ways in which it can make cooking easier more enjoyable and Mark sensible. I'm extremely skeptical when it comes to things that seem like more work loaded with things that I don't need and cost money. So JJ when you when you think about it, we we had a conversation in in Ireland as well. Interesting conversation with Lulu for BBC where I think some of the folks look at what Heston is doing or just generally technology in the kitchen, and they're a little skeptical about it. So how do you? How do you remember that? Yeah. Yeah. I mean for me, the exciting part is I think a lot of these new technologies that were all playing with have the ability to fill a gap in learning to cook. You know, if you look back decades ago people used to spend time in the kitchen with their parents, and they would learn how to cook. Well, now, both parents are working sports after school. There's all this other stuff going on. And so there's a gap where people aren't learning how to cook. And I think tablets video screens assisted cooking devices can sort of fill that gap. In terms of skepticism. I would say like robot cooking is the thing. I'm most skeptical about where it's like push button. And it does absolutely everything for you. Because I think that in all talk about this a little bit tomorrow. You lose a lot of the joy of creation when you do that. When the robot is making the food and not you. I think you're talking about a generation latchkey kids. They're like, you know. Video enabled cook and gets. Yeah. I think it's really interesting to think about the difference in the way. People learn today versus like even the way they learn when I grew up, right? Like, I didn't grow up with a tablet in my hands the whole time. Right. But that's a very natural way for the kid born in the two thousands to to learn how to do something. So taking advantage of their way of learning. I think's really powerful. So I I showed that article in my opening talk. People are speculating, we'll even need kitchens in the future. Right. Because I mean, the the rising of the food delivery model is happening so fast, and I've heard your pockets you talked about that with the folks from eater a little bit. So do with people ordering food at the touch abundant Dana. Do you think we're even going to need kitchens in the future do going away? I think the kitchen will reshape itself in Wilmore f-. And I think that since we want everything onto manned immediately. A lot of. It's delivery and people have an obstacle because they don't necessarily know how to cook. Right. So if we want people to use the kitchen, our first the first thing, we need to do is find ways to find cooking exciting integrated into the light. But the way that I could see shave the kitchen changing is. It becomes a like a snack dispensary. It becomes a a cannabis dispensary. It becomes a a place where you recycle because you've had your food delivered. And you need a place to store it. I could see the appliances becoming smaller because you can get everything you need that day so easily like you see the the kitchen being something that's supplied by an outsider like farmers fridge. Except the home version to someone comes and puts kitchen as a service kitchen kitchen is a service in so many buildings that are being built today. There's a kitchen for the building and strangely. It's almost like the community model from you know, inch and times where there's a communal hearth. But there's a communal kitchen and there's a cook cooking for the communal kitchen, which puts a different type of pressure on your own kitchen. And then I think that kitchens, I guess they'd go on this for a while. So I'll stop that. I think that one of the things to keep in mind is that all people and L kitchens will not be created equal and the ability to personalise not have just right now, we have essentially one kitchen model that people plug into and there's one footprint, and I think what we're going to see what the kitchen of the future is much more flexibility and a reinvention of what that kitchen model looks like for those who really are delivery only for those who are really devoted cokes and that is their meditation. That's the way of life. That's how they gather and then somewhere in between. So I feel like it's the flexibility that we're really going to see. And is there like a lack, right? So, you know, oftentimes when we see a new idea new technology. It's kind of like an aftermarket and you'll eventually stir spaces changed around to fit. What's what kind of new innovation is, we aren't really seeing restaurants start to change to fit the delivery model. Right. So they're actually kind of building restaurants now with this idea that we're gonna be sending to result back, and you see one of the displays out here is the LARs power consortium. They're saying, hey, let's build wireless power charging into the countertop or JJ leaguers doing with has to maybe building it into ovens that come to your house near the lake what your technology is. So over time the space is so adapt to the behaviors which are often times driven by technology. So it's a little bit of a circle. Yeah. I mean, I think that's definitely true. That's how things come about. I think like my concern sort of back on the last question is like is cooking used to be the central thing that everybody did. Right. It's the way that you survived and ended also gave you some level of satisfaction is going to become purely a hobby for some small subset of people in if so that's really concerning to me as as a guy who makes kitchen appliances like I would like for lots of people to be cooking in. So to me if if what we're selling is purely like sustenance, right? Just purely the ability to eat. You'd really don't need a kitchen. You just don't right like food delivery is going to get better. And better we're going to have robot. Cars driving around your neighborhood that will pick up food from any restaurant you want and bring it to your house. We'll be super warm. It'll be perfect. In. It's hard to make any sort of economic case that it makes sense for you to be doing cooking at home. If all your cooking for is to get food to fill your stomach up. Right. So we better hope that there's something more that you get from cooking in my opinion. Right. That that there's some amount of pride in the thing that you've created in. If that's the thing that we managed to enable with us technologies, then I think we all have a really bright future. Otherwise, like, I think food delivery every night by a robot Uber eats, or whatever it'll be called. We'll be the way the future. Yeah. I think we're we're really pretty much halfway there. But I think that what that what that means is that anyone who is invested in appliances in in cooking in teaching in gathering actually needs to create even more of a movement of explaining why what the value is and really not actually selling the appliance talking about the appliance is really what is what's the emotional transaction that happens here because the physical transaction can be so easily replaced. Yeah. I definitely agree that figuring that out. I think is the key. And I'm not sure that any of us is cracked that nut yet. Right. Like where we figured out the end all solution to to getting people there. But I think it's probably the most important question that we face as sort of an industry right now is how to get how to create. That healing and people into give them that emotional connection to what they're doing. Yeah. I totally agree. And I think are we we're trying to disagree and I disagree with you. So is this are we moving towards a world potentially where there's like service. It's a service kitchen is a service bureau. Right. Where you just have people plugging in like, I want you mentioned the can dispensary the buttons for the different Grupp button. Maybe so I don't think that's a bad thing. Because you maybe need to warn food you need. Maybe neither heat the food. Maybe there are cohorts, right? Or maybe I'm a different cohort depending on the day of the week during the middle of the week. I'm just pushing buttons in robot delivers it to my house on the weekends. I wanna practice JJ. Maybe you're saying this f I just gets easy to push the button. Then ultimately, I just never do that practice cook on the weekend or any I never kind of dive into that part of my why or why would you even waste the time and money to have space in equipment to do that. Right. Like I live in Seattle. Right. Five hundred dollars a square foot for a house in the city, right? My kitchen's one hundred twenty five square feet. So I paid fifty items sixty two thousand five hundred dollars. Just for the square footage that my kitchen occupies in. Then I get to go spend fifteen grand on appliances to put in it. And then I get to go spend money to actually buy the food. And then I have to spend my time to prepare it like there's no economic case for me to cook food there really isn't it would be cheaper for me to just get restaurant food delivered every night. But I still cook. In the reason, I cook is that like it's cool when something comes out right or when you can impress your friends with something that you've made in. So the question is how do we make that feeling easy to attain relatively easy to team on a regular basis for people? I think the other thing that we're talking about is the the notion of the maker, and you being the maker and as our lives are increasingly overtaken by technology. There's very little actually that you need to make at all. And the kitchen as the maker room is very compelling as the the relief from everything else that is done for you. But again, it needs to be its own its own reward right yet t- to your point Michael where you talked about pushing the button like if I go to the microwave, and I put some popcorn in there. And I hit one button in popcorn comes out. Do I feel any joy at the end of that? Right. Like, I don't know. I didn't do anything. I didn't have anything really to do with the preparation of that other than hitting a button like whether I hit a button on my microwave or hit a button on a web browser to get popcorn delivered to my house. I don't care. It's the same thing. Right. So we'd better be creating something better than just hitting a button, in my opinion, and are these things mutually exclusive. Right. So this idea of the maker space. And technology. I mean, people see the kitchen is the last bashing kind of the last out against technology. I get in there and give an answer not keyboarding all day in the kitchen. Can you still see technology come into the kitchen for those folks or the mutual suits? I think technology is essential in the kitchen as our hands. Right. I mean for years, we would ask the question. What's your favorite piece of equipment in the kitchen? And the chefs would say like, my hands are my favorite piece of equipment. But there's also a lot of people whose would say that they're quizzing artists our favorite piece of equipment, or I mean, I'm more modern version, but the I think what's interesting is everything that we use in the kitchen aside aside from our hands is enabled by technology. So it is doing it together. But I think it's it's investing the intellect in. In the in the the wave food is being made rather than the pressing a button. And I also agree that it's it. It's not it's not a monolithic. And from what I understand from builders. The kitchens, even though you're economic argument makes a ton of sense. And we know where delivery is. I think that the today, which is ubiquitous and where it will be in the future, which is even more ubiquitous. There's change in people's mind about the rule of the kitchen is very slow to change. So I think people would rather have the six toe, which is the kitchen and say sometimes it's going to help me to walk then eliminate the kitchen and have no hope for that kind of gathering. Yeah. I mean, I think I would sort of disagree with the premise of your question, actually, this sort of question. Do we need technology mccutchen? Like, you have technology in your kitchen like in your cooking over an open fire in your kitchen with your meat on a stick like you're using kitchen, right like, and if you're using a metal pan while you're not using a clay pot which came before that. Right. And so like, I get this. I hear this comment a lot. Oh, I don't wanna use this device because it's technology, and I don't want technology, you're using technology. Everyday technology is this giant evolutionary process. It's not stopping today. It will continue on. And so the only question is is like what's your relationship with that technology? At this moment. Right because your relationship will change with it over time. They're early adopters early adopters. That's fine. In. So I think right now, we're at this moment where there's a bunch of early adopters trying a bunch of new things some of those things will fail and fade away the ones that are good. We'll survive in evolve further, but this notion that we haven't actually used technology in the kitchen before to me is just it's nonsensical. Right. Like, there's boatloads of technology in your kitchen. Okay. So we're totally green with each other. So I'm going to change the topic. You've said that there's a bunch of things that have failed that will fill in those it will succeed from where you sit which is really at the white hot center. What have you seen that? In fact, does make in addition to pest in of course. Make the meal journey much more exciting easier more accessible and something to look forward to which is I think I really love your comment about joy. Because in fact, that is joy in connection. Right or what the heart of the kitchen is. And if it's nibbled by technology, so better. So what would that be for me just in? I hate to say this this way, the power of screens in the kitchen is important the ability to show someone how to do something that they don't know. How to do is just a stunningly important a good example, we do user testing on all the recipes and the shelves. Are we have chefs who create these recipes that really good cooks in like they'll say, oh, everyone knows how to cut an apple right? Like in. It turns out you do use your testing when there's no video on the how to cut in apple step, and you get all kinds of crazy things that people do with that. And the chefs are like watching on video tearing their hair out going. Oh my God. How can people not know how to do this? Right. And so for me, I think this notion of being able to show people how to do something is really important, and you see a lot of products in betting that right? So I'm on tablets, some rain hood some on refrigerator panels. And so I think that's one that's likely to be powerful in the long run. Now, the cool part about that is the different types of ways you can make content for that. And the different perspectives. You can have are like wide open. And so I think it allows for a lot of creativity and diversity of but using that same technology of a screen, and what about voice, what about voice? This sort of a I don't know. I'm a fan of the right tool for the right job voices sort of this hype cycle of technologies, I think right? Let me ask you. Right. So you work for food and wine for twenty years and in putting wine, duh, did do a lot of recipes. If I'm right from crack that was found out and so coming at it from that perspective. And you see these new tools, I actually agree with you that I think I'm a very visual person. So like, a voice instructed recipe for me doesn't necessarily, but in Tanna, I'm like a dual mode makes what do you think in terms of like these new technologies just to show people out of cooking guided through, but it was something you think could replace that paper recipe and food and wine. I think that a funny things that I learned was that we had a tight seven million meters. And I've got to talk to a lot of people in it say. I started out saying I'm I got they was had food. And I'm like, oh, that's so nice. Is there a recipe particularly love like I don't actually use the recipes. I just like this sort of world of food right because there's such an obsession with food. So I'm not as worried about replacing the paper recipe as encouraging people to cook. Because even this dedicated audience, they really loved the lifestyle around the food. So, but can you formats inspire people to cook more so than like an old format, right? So. Question Mark, like I'd love to know the date that because when I what I learned was that people who love cooking. They've figure it out. And it's a it's a passion and they enjoy the journey. They would enjoy the journey whether they were being helped by video for something that was a difficult technique or they enjoy the journey whether they were using paper recipe, but I'm more concerned. But all those people who are trying to get over the hill, and that will be the meal kit people so the milk, and they want to they want to cook. And the idea of the milk is you learn techniques similar to what you were saying you learn technique, and then that you can use it later on right to make your own meals. But I think that there's so my hope would be that the video would be an inspiration and make it easier to cook. And the integration is a great way to get new people to want to cook. But I think it needs to be made a personalized exciting. And diverse. I'm curious how you think about those people that read food and wine, but don't actually cook. Right. Because one of the things I spent a lot of time in a lot of people's kitchens is still the nicest kitchens, I've been writing had these super high end appliances and just beautiful cookware in all completely brand new and you start talking to the kitchen. It's amazing. Like, you must cook it on. I don't I don't really cook. It all right. And you look in the oven. And there's no no grossness in the oven at all from it ever have been news in like, I see a lot of that. And it sounds like maybe I don't need you encountered a lot of people like that over your years in. I don't know what your perspective on on that. And like how we get those people to do something different. I guess I think that those people loved the lifestyle of food, and they really don't cook. And they have so many fantastic options to eat really really well. And so we're trying to convince people who already eat very well through other means whether they go to the grocery store in the grocery stores, providing them with great food. That's. Been prepped and all they have to what what I've seen is that people think of cooking as actually what I would call planning because I takes Rakuita and cheese, and that's the meal or they take prep veges, and like maybe the heat them, but roast chicken, and so there's a lot of composing rather than cooking. And so I just not to make it circular. But it comes back to those are the most committed because these fabulous kitchens. What do you do to make them wanting us them, I'm going to try? We're gonna try to go some some audience questions. Like, I said, we're experimenting if we can get questions on the screen. We'll see if this works if not we'll we'll keep talking because I found out this is one of the things I don't have wifi turned on. So I don't have that big questions. So. Stuck not working? Well, I think he's something you just brought up really interesting to me, which is if you go walkout in this lobby here. I'm a part of this, right? The devices you're gonna see out there are generally, speaking, not inexpensive. In in. So we're certainly targeting a high end early adopter part of the market. It sounds like from based on what you said actually, the problem that needs to be addressed maybe providing tools technology and techniques for people of lesser means. Right. And in I don't know that any of us here at least based on what I've seen are like laser focused on that problem right now, actually think the interesting thing about that problem when you look ahead, and you look at the gym z, and you look at people who are concerned about I mean, I think one of the questions we haven't really really addressed as how does the kitchen fit into the entire ecosphere of what people are concerned about right now at least in the food world. The obsession is. You know, those with less means jen's e saying I'm not gonna have the money in the future. I'm concerned about the environment unconcerned about the workers. Right. And so that they're all these moral questions that come up, and how does it kitchen into the moral question in what way does cooking actually fit in beautifully into that solution because I think that we've had talking about, you know, the ark site one of the arts we had with the rise of the. Interested in food and at its pinnacle all the star chefs and all the sex pill round, everything that meant everyone was going out. But I think there will be some kind of turning inward that. On the younger the population driven by money student debt and also driven by the notion of. You know, that they don't always want to be out and connecting with people, but the sense of isolation. So is there is there some way in which you actually address that in reshaping the kitchen for that. I don't know. I think it's a that's a fascinating question. I think it's happy camp products. Right. I mean, you seen packaging and people were thinking about more sustainability. But like, you're definitely right? How do we address that in the kitchen from clicking perspective? I think is an interesting conversation. You talked a little bit about jen's Iverson's Montiel's. Do you see a difference in terms of millennials is that ship sail or they hardened in their behavior or they still shave a bowl in terms of lake teaching them and getting them to love cooking, which I think they are doing ready to a certain degree. Some are so Marcus in just talking to people every day at different ages about food. I. In their habits have their eating habits. So right now, I'm working with. Vast farm forward restaurant group, right? And so we're all about food from the farm. It's really millennial. A millennial thing I feel like when we bring the farm into the kitchen, we're going to get those millennials. And we bring the values into the kitchen. It'll be very interesting. I don't know that the ship has sailed, but they seem less. They seem apologetic about the relationship with technology. Like, I just it all happened to after me. And I just think that's fascinating. Well, that's just not true to say to my generation, but they do feel a little bit less interested a little bit more divorce from it. Whereas I think there's such a huge opportunity to combine all these different aspects with the jen's. Well, we're about out of time. So I want to give you guys a big round of applause. Thank you guys. Everyone listening to the smart kitchen show. Check out the smart could your summit at smart kitchen, some dot com. Find more content at the spoon dot tech. And make sure you get more smart catcher shows in apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts until next time. This is Michael Wolff every week.