In this special edition of its 5 Things series, Food Management highlights five recent technology-related developments affecting the foodservice world.
Here’s your list for today:
- Massive indoor farm opens in Wisconsin distribution center
Indoor farming firm Square Roots and major foodservice distributor Gordon Food Service recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Gordon distribution center in Kenosha, Wisc., to celebrate their largest indoor farm built to date. To manage the farm, Square Roots uses proprietary, cloud-connected software to constantly monitor and control multiple climates, enabling its farmers to grow a wide variety of fresh greens, herbs, micro-greens and salad mixes to meet local market needs.
- Self-driving cars deliver food to Pittsburgh hunger centers
Pittsburgh-based 412 Food Rescue is working with tech firm Argo AI and FM Top 50 foodservice contract firm Parkhurst Dining to use Argo's autonomous vehicles to pick up and transport food to nonprofits that help feed the needy in the region. The food comes from Argo’s headquarters that is serviced by Parkhurst.
“412 Food Rescue has always aimed to modernize food recovery to make donating surplus food easier for businesses, and delivering that food immediately, making food access convenient for people in need,” says Leah Lizarondo, the nonprofit’s co-founder and CEO. “We believe in using every tool in our technological toolbox to get food to people who need it, and we’re excited to explore how one of the most innovative technologies we’ve seen in Pittsburgh can be used for good through our partnership with Argo.”
- Fully automated restaurant opens in San Francisco
Whether you call it the next generation of the automat or “that robot restaurant with the hummus bowls,” Mezli is claiming to be the world’s first fully automated restaurant and it likely won’t be only one. The San Francisco-based to-go kitchen pod was invented by Stanford engineers and unlike many other restaurant robots, Mezli’s automation system can do it all without (much) intervention by humans.
Here’s how it works: a customer walks up to the ordering touchscreen to place their order. Behind the scenes, the robotic technology can assemble the bowl a customer selects by heating up refrigerated ingredients (that have been cooked most of the way by in-house chef Eric Minnich’s team); adding sauces, toppings and garnishes; and then placing it into a smart locker for the customer to pick up, along with any side dishes and drinks.
- App streamlines hospital’s patient meal order system
Riverside Doctors’ Hospital Williamsburg in Virginia has introduced a new food ordering service that allows patients to order meals online using the CBORD Patient-app. The new online service offers a variety of meal options for patients and provides them with nutritional information by connecting the user’s device to Riverside’s nutrition system. While using the app and the food ordering service, only foods that are appropriate to a patient’s current diet are displayed, and there are controls in place to limit the number of choices based on the patient’s nutritional information.
- Chicken wing cooking robot debuts in Kentucky restaurant
Cincinnati-based chain Wings and Rings is working with California-based Miso Robotics to pilot a chicken wing making robot at its location in Crestview Hills, Ky. The robot uses nine cameras to classify items, so whether customers are traditional, boneless, or even fried fish fans, Lil’ Flip’s robotic arm can drop the food into the appropriate basket for a scorching hot oil bath until it’s golden, crispy and, according to at least one diner, delicious. “We are the first restaurant in the entire world to be serving chicken wings cooked with artificial intelligence, so we are pretty pumped about that here in little Crestview Hills, Kentucky," says unit manager William Stone.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]