Guest post by Santiago Merea of The Orange Chef Co. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Food+Tech Connect.
How might we use technology and design to hack a better future for dining?
The first thing I am tempted to do with a question that is so open-ended is put it into a more defined context. If we can figure out how to make cooking at home as easy as ordering takeout, we would be attacking a very important pain point, that, if solved, could offer great advantages when it comes to dining.
So let’s start by defining the process one goes through in order to successfully prepare a meal at home. Then we’ll look at where the points of friction come into play:
Decide what to have for dinner.
Make sure that you have all the ingredients at home.
If you are missing ingredients, go shopping.
Now that you have all the ingredients, prep them.
Typically, between actions 1 and 3 someone looks at the other person (or the mirror) and says, “what if we order takeout instead?” The friction of having to pick what to cook and getting set up with the right ingredients is just too much. This is why people end up with greasy takeout pad thai instead.
It is very rare that someone will get to action 4 and decide that instead he or she will order takeout. At that point, the benefits of finishing the home-cooked meal outweigh the drawbacks, as most of the friction is alleviated. For this reason, recipe selection and ingredient sourcing are where technology and design can be used to most effectively hack dining.
Companies like Yummly and Allthecooks have done a terrific job at recipe curation and search, and others like Blue Apron and Plated help with ingredient sourcing by making it super easy to get to point 4 on the list above.
However, according to a recent poll, four in five people like to cook with what they are familiar with and not necessarily with recipes. There is also the problem of personalization. With Blue Apron and Plated your personalization options are limited.
At The Orange Chef Co., we decided to help people make healthy and completely customizable home-cooked meals with our smart scale, Prep Pad. We are still experimenting and exploring solutions, but we have a clear roadmap that will eventually have products and services that will make actions 1 to 3 in our list easy and automated. We should put our energy into developing new technologies and using design thinking to hack this part of dining.
Hacking Dining is an online conversation exploring how we might use technology and design to hack a better future for dining. Join the conversation between June 2 – July 30, and share your ideas in the comments, on Twitter using #hackdining, Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr.