Guest post by Adam Salomone, Associate Publisher, The Harvard Common Press. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Food+Tech Connect.
I love dining out, taking a romantic view of the culinary possibilities available in a restaurant when I can order just about anything I want. Dining out is an experience, it’s an opportunity to try new foods, to experiment, to be a culinary visitor in someone else’s kitchen. But, for many of us, restaurants seem to be somewhat disconnected from the overall conversation about the challenges facing our food system. From food access and scarcity, to waste and water stewardship, the tremendous pressures that we have to feed a growing population are both reflected, and often overlooked, in the restaurant setting. As an example, it’s well-documented that roughly half the food grown and put into the food system is lost to food waste. 15% of that wastage is found in the restaurant setting.
In short, the restaurant ecosystem is broken. Or at least, very inefficient.
And while we’ve all seen plenty of new restaurant-tech innovations that are meant to make restaurants operate more efficiently, many of these are “me too” mobile payment apps and tablet ordering programs that represent only a small part of the puzzle. Why am I excited about Hack // Dining? Because it promises to start a movement around what’s truly important in the restaurant space, by connecting the conversation around restaurant innovation to the wider challenges in our food system.
The innovations that will begin to tackle some of these challenges represent a combination of technology solutions tailored to restaurant operations and management. And, taken together, they also provide a 360-degree approach to the problems facing restaurants, dealing with both front-of-house and back-of-house management issues. Some of these include:
All told, the above is just a small subset of the possibilities available in the dining space. It is an area of food innovation that is still in the early stages, and represents huge potential for disruption across a variety of avenues. Plus, restaurants have proven themselves open to finding new solutions to common problems, especially with the right partners who bring strong insight about how to solve those problems. I’m excited for what’s to come with Hack//Dining and the new platforms, startups, and solutions that will be built out of the robust and active dialogue between entrepreneurs, innovators, restaurateurs, investors, and technologists.
Hacking Dining is online conversation exploring how we might use technology and design to hack a better future for dining. Join the conversation between June 2-30, and share your ideas in the comments, on Twitter using #hackdining, Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr.
“Adam Salomone is the Associate Publisher of The Harvard Common Press, a leading independent publisher of cookbooks, based in Boston. In addition to the Press’ work in the food media space, HCP is also deeply involved in the world of foodtech entrepreneurship as both an investor and entrepreneur advisor. The company has made investments in a number of startups over the past four years, including Yummly.com, an intelligent recipe search engine, and Caviar, which powers food delivery for takeout restaurants. They’ve also founded a foodtech startup innovation co-working space in Boston, called The Food Loft, which provides a network of contacts, resources and strategic partnership for entrepreneurs working out of the space.”