Looking through articles about Smart Kitchen Summit 2017, it's interesting to note that while Tyler Florence was proclaiming that recipes are dead, Hestan's Jon Jenkins was declaring them the software of the smart kitchen. In reality, Tyler and Jon were essentially in agreement with each other, but more importantly, the discussion had begun and the role of recipes in a digital age was becoming evident.
It's no surprise then that recipes dominated the discussion at Smart Kitchen Summit Europe (SKS) 2018 this week. What else was under the spotlight at this gathering of experts from the food tech space? We've chosen our three key takeaways from SKS Europe 2018.
We recently wrote about the power of brand partnerships in food, and collaboration was evident at SKS Europe. It seems clear that the smart kitchen industry understands the benefits of content and technology partnerships. Established appliance brands like Electrolux are combining their expertise with the digital expertise of companies such as Innit. Meanwhile, Drop's collaboration with Kenwood was on display - a combination of accessible hardware with inspiring content and connected technology. Not only that, but SideChef announced a partnership with appliance manufacturer V-Zug, proving that collaboration is a hot topic in the smart kitchen space right now.
Drop's Ben Harris spoke about the importance of retail integration, pointing out that there are times when the only thing preventing him from creating a delicious meal is immediate access to the ingredients. This is where retail integration in the smart kitchen comes in. Everyone from Amazon to Waitrose has embraced shoppable recipes, and the smart kitchen is no different. Whisk has positioned itself as the expert in this area, and Nick Holzherr spoke about the grocery sector and the impending disruption in this area. Placing the recipe at the centre of the smart kitchen, it only makes sense for smart appliance manufacturers to explore and invest in retail integration. Giving consumers the ability to shop the ingredients for any recipe from any grocer right there in the kitchen will surely become a priority.
Recipes Are Not Dead
If SKS Europe is reflective of the industry, recipes are becoming a vital ingredient in the smart kitchen space. Recipes were well represented in the Startup Showcase, which included an exciting launch from meal planning startup Recipeat. BBC Good Food's Lulu Grimes was a clever addition to the lineup, giving a different perspective in an event that was obviously dominated by technology. Where those involved in the smart kitchen, such as Hestan's Jon Jenkins, are focused on precision in cooking, Lulu rightly pointed out that recipes are more than just a list of instructions and that precision is not always the aim. The standout point came from dishq's Kishan Vasani, who pointed out that it is important that a recipe platform understands the individual cook, their skill level and their aim. Personalisation is key. Perhaps the most exciting takeaway is that Electrolux is in the taste business, not the appliance business. It's easy to forget that for the consumer the ultimate aim is to create tasty food. The smart kitchen and guided cooking systems can make the cooking process simple while teaching new skills, but ultimately if the flavour is not there, it's a pointless exercise.