Professional Comment

Kitchen Automation to Serve Up Greater Food Quality in Tougher Times

By Amelia Jonas, Karakuri’s Director of Product (

Many factors go into consumers’ decisions to choose a brand to dine with, but, unsurprisingly, the taste of the food comes top of the list.

Remembering the taste of the food from a great restaurant brand means customers crave that food and return to that restaurant brand time and time again. Therefore, it is vital that it tastes the same each and every time they return. One bad meal means a restaurant brand can lose that customer for good.

Each foodservice operator – from Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) and fast casual (FSR’s) restaurants to cafes and pubs – has teams spending months, sometimes years sourcing the highest quality ingredients at a good price, testing and perfecting recipes, and training their teams on the optimum way to prepare and cook their food so that it can be served to customers perfectly every time.

However, times are tough, especially in the hospitality industry. Inflation is at its highest in over 40 years, and there is a huge labour shortage crisis. With costs climbing and staff shortages, every part of a foodservice business is being scrutinised. This includes enhancing in-store operations, labour saving initiatives and menu management. Decisions on ingredients, product makeup, product sizes, and menu sizes are all under consideration by brands, franchisees, and their food development teams.

Whatever the decisions made, what is understood by everyone is that the quality and taste of the food must remain high and the experience must be consistent. After all, it’s those reasons a customer chose to purchase that food from that brand. These reasons are also the driving force for rising interest in kitchen automation. Automating some or all of the cooking procedures in a commercial kitchen can have huge benefits, standardising quality control and eliminating the possibility of human error, ensuring the food a customer buys is the same, every time!

Busy kitchens can see standards slip.
When team members are 100% focussed on getting meals prepared and to the customer in a timely manner, quality standards are significantly reduced. For example, if chips are taken out of the fryer 30 seconds too early, they will be less crispy, or if a pizza that was supposed to have 10 perfect lines of drizzle on the top has eight messy ones instead, the customer will notice. Sometimes there is just too much to juggle at once and communication becomes unclear. This can easily lead to overcooking and food being thrown away. Slip-ups like this might seem small but the knock-on effect on taste, consistency, and wastage can be significant.

Automation – enabled by intelligent kitchen robotics – can help solve this problem. By automating just one cooking procedure (like frying), kitchen staff can spend more time on other areas in the kitchen, improving the attention to detail on the food, or improving the customer experience.

Automation Enhances Traceability
Traceability is a significant benefit of automating a cooking procedure. The machine will be able to tell you details including portion sizes, cook times, wastage amounts, and temperatures. Every single food product will be traceable. This enables restaurants to keep track of food in the supply chain, which supports the accurate withdrawal or recall of unsafe food, if required. The more information establishments keep, the quicker and easier it is for them to identify the affected food, mitigate risks to customers, and save time and money.

Automation Reduces Waste
Rising food costs mean that kitchen teams need to account for each ingredient. In addition to cooking food to order, intelligent kitchen systems can connect directly to the customer order systems, ensuring that only food items ordered by customers are cooked. Plus, AI-powered solutions can predict how much food really needs to be prepared when it gets busy – very clever stuff!

Automation Increases Safety
Kitchen automation also improves workplace safety. Intelligent robotics systems can reduce the risk of accidents, as well as help avoid and prevent work injuries, resulting in a safer workplace for everyone. It’s scary that 54% of burns victims got them while using a fryer. By making the workplace safer, uptime and productivity will also increase.

Smart kitchen technology is the future of food service. Now more than ever, in the face of an economic recession, hospitality is relying on repeat business. Delivering high-quality meals with every order, every day, is imperative and new innovations emerging from the market will help serve up great meals.