In restaurants across the UK, chefs and catering managers are struggling to adapt their menus to suit the new reality. They ask new and strange questions like:
“Will this meal travel well?” “Do we need to alter the recipe to get a better shelf-life” “How will we package this?” “What shall we do with the sauce..separate or together?” “Doesn’t this need to be piping hot..they’ll ask us to send it again when they find it cold?” “Will they know what they are eating?” “How will they know?” “What do we do if something goes wrong?” “Who is our customer..we don’t even know their name?"
In the development kitchens of Gousto, HelloFresh, Morrisons and Waitrose, development chefs are tweaking recipes to suit the requirements they say are needed for the “chefs of the future, the at-home chefs with little knowledge.” Every recipe is designed to target a full preparation time of no more than 27 minutes. Unpacking, prepping, cooking by clockwork, it is all stepped and reliable.
Recipe boxes, designed to impose a confident regularity on our hurried lives, invite the meal choices we make to be filtered through an orchestrated variety. Some believe that this a great opportunity to learn more about food. Some think otherwise..Is this a return to cooking or cooking by numbers? Does it matter?
Whether it be food on a bike or food in a box, the way we understand food is changing. Our expectation of and trust in food is also changing. Whether we are the chefs of the future or diners on the hoof, is an open question.
In the heart of every restaurant kitchen on any local high street in the UK, heated discussions are taking place about how they see their businesses in the future. What will we cook? How will we cook it? Who will we cook it for? Who is our customer? Who will our customer be in the future?
My local Italian may once have had a wide variety of Italian dishes on offer. Looking again, I see that Pizza boxes are stacked up wherever I turn..Pizza is a hot delivery item! I order my meal and wait. As I wait, Pizza goes flying out the door in vast numbers. The menu for dine-in has shrunk..the number of delivery orders has grown vastly. My meal arrives a bit later than usual. It is as delicious as ever. I leave the restaurant and look back. There is a new sign hanging above the door..Just Eat.
- How do restaurants, food retailers and consumers navigate this sea of change in the way we think about, purchase and consume food?
- How do we address the mountains of waste being generated by this drive towards ever greater convenience?
- How do we provide support to restaurants and food retailers throughout the UK as they learn to adapt to the changing world of food delivery?
- How do we regulate an industry that is growing exponentially and quickly transforming our local high street?
- How do ensure the delivery driver is protected, kept safe and their rights protected?
- How do we help consumers better understand the consequences of their choices - food on the bike or food in the box?
- How do we best protect those consumers with allergies?
- How do ensure the food offering is healthy?
- How do we support the design and development of systems that keep food safe and transport it under conditions of quality?
- How do ensure that food choice is protected?
- What can we do to provide consumers with full and transparent information on the food they purchase?