Counting your calories may become much easier thanks to The Orange Chef’s new quantified cooking products. The company will soon be releasing Prep Pad, a digital scale that calculates nutritional information in real-time, and Countertop, an accompanying iOS app that presents the information and lets you set goals. Designed for health-conscious home cooks, and riding the wave of the quantified self movement, it provides users with nutritional information about their meals – calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat content – similar to the information you’d find on the nutritional label of any packaged good.
The device is sleek and beautiful. It does not display any weight data, making it look more like a cutting board than a digital scale. “It’s less about weight, and it’s more about you,” Orange Chef director of communications Michael Tankenoff tells me.
Users place meal ingredients, one at a time, on the scale, and then Prep Pad sends the weight to the Countertop via Bluetooth. Users must then go into the app to identify the ingredient, which can be done through manual selection on their screen, voice command or by scanning the barcode. Once the ingredients are identified, the app calculates the meal’s health profile, leveraging Nutritionix’s database of over 300,000 ingredients, which includes packaged products and large chain restaurant food.
Users can then make adjustments to the ingredient amounts to achieve a better nutrient mix based on their health goals. Countertop compares your meal with suggested protein, carb, and fat levels based on USDA guidelines, and also calculates an overall “balance score” out of 100, with higher numbers representing more balanced meals.
Compiling all of the ingredients at the start and quantifying nutritional information one-at-a-time may seem daunting to time-management obsessed chefs and home cooks, but Tankenoff says “these additional minutes before one’s meal is ready are worth the informational output.” Rather than reducing time in the kitchen, the Countertop app seeks to enable users to make wiser meal choices and better track eating habits, he says. Apart from health-conscious home cooks, this technology could have larger implications for food service providers with nutrition-sensitive clientele, such as schools, geriatric facilities, and health-conscious restaurants.
The Prep Pad was funded through a Kickstarter campaign launched in May, with 500 pre-ordered units at $149.95 each and an expected delivery in November. The company has also received inquiries from retailers expressing interest in the product, Tankenoff says. The company plans to enhance the software so that the app becomes more of a culinary instructor, allowing the cook to input what they want to prepare and then the software would dictate how much of each ingredient to add. Further down the road, the company seeks to leverage technology to improve other stalwart cooking tools to create a more connected kitchen. “We’re going to look at cornerstones of the kitchen environment and see how we can improve them in a subtle way by using technology to enhance the process,” says Tankenoff.
This is The Orange Chef’s second series of kitchen tech products. It’s first, an iPad protector called Chef Sleeve, launched two years ago and was followed by dishwasher safe iPad stands.