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Artificial Intelligence – Potential and challenges in the professional kitchen

By: Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Artificial intelligence (AI) has lately been gaining a lot of traction in the hospitality industry. On the one hand, hoteliers and restaurateurs can offer an improved customer experience, partially automate processes and reduce costs. On the other hand, it can also be challenging to implement AI technologies because they can be used in so many different ways.

This article is part of a two-part series on artificial intelligence in the gastronomy industry. While we explored the current status quo of AI in the food service industry in Part 1, in this part, KTCHNrebel shows you how hoteliers and restaurateurs can benefit from AI and what steps they can take to fully reap the benefits it offers. In addition, it highlights some of the latest developments specifically designed for the hospitality industry.

AI to optimize menu or menu description

Back in 2019, KTCHNrebel reported on Israeli startup Tastewise, which uses AI to identify trends in the foodservice industry. Based on real-time data (social media), menus, online recipes and other sources, it creates trend reports, analyzes bestsellers, validates new concepts and generates other insights. This allows restaurateurs to draw valuable conclusions for their restaurant, hotel or business and, for example, adapt their menu perfectly to their guests.

Insight into the menu created with the help of artificial intelligence on Tastewise.

Image: Tastewise

However, there’s more. You can now use voice-based AI like ChatGPT to create descriptions about new or modified dishes, which you can use on your website, social media or menu. After entering the text into the corresponding tool, the tool delivers the post. For example, here’s one about a cheeseburger from a hip sustainable burger restaurant (generated with ChatGPT):

🍔 Sustainable cheeseburger – enjoy with a clear conscience! 🌱

Welcome to the heart of our hip burger restaurant, where sustainability and quality come first! Our unique cheeseburger will delight you and any eco-conscious connoisseurs with every bite and leave your taste buds dancing with joy! 🤩

🌿 The patty: Our juicy beef patties are sourced from happy, humanely raised animals from regional farms. We place great importance on ethical meat consumption and only use meat that has been cultivated with a respect for nature.

🧀 The cheese: A slice of delicious organic cheddar cheese melts across our patty. It comes from responsible cheesemakers that are committed to animal welfare and protecting the environment.

🌾 The bread roll: Our brioche burger bun is freshly baked every day by local bakers and made from high-quality, sustainable ingredients. It has an airy texture, a mildly sweet taste and perfectly complements the flavor of the patty.

🥬 The toppings: Our crunchy lettuce and juicy tomatoes are organic and carefully selected by local farmers.

🌱 The sauce: Our homemade burger sauce is made with love and contains only natural ingredients. No artificial additives or flavor enhancers!

Enjoy our cheeseburger in a sustainable setting featuring recycled materials and eco-friendly furniture. With us, every individual taste bud is satisfied and you can rest assured knowing your experience will also have a positive impact on the environment. 🌎💚

#SustainablyEnjoy #BurgerLove #QualityForQuantity #EnvironmentallyConscious #HipperEnjoyment #EnvironmentallyConsciousEnthusiasts #SustainableGastronomy

Cheeseburger that is freshly prepared.

Image: Africa Studio

Optimum cooking processes thanks to artificial intelligence

Speaking of the food on offer, it also needs to be prepared in the best possible way. As it turns out, artificial intelligence is now playing a role here too. Markus Paschmann, Member of the Management Board for Marketing and Sales (CSMO) at Rational AG, emphasizes the role of AI in optimizing professional cooking appliances for even greater customer benefit. “For example, by combining customer needs and wants, the data provided, and the knowledge of our in-house chefs, AI can already help develop new cooking processes.”

In this way, it is possible to react quickly to trends in the industry and provide restaurateurs with suitable cooking options. Paschmann also emphasizes that creativity and quantitative data, combined with awareness of customers’ short- and long-term challenges, form the basis for the further development of AI at Rational.

Markus Paschmann

Image: Rational

Solution to the shortage of skilled workers?

A central topic that is repeatedly discussed in connection with artificial intelligence is how it might replace human labor. Is it perhaps even the solution to the shortage of skilled workers? Will it replace any professions, and if so, which ones? Or will it create new jobs and upgrade existing ones instead? There is no simple answer to these questions.

On the one hand, AI can assist with certain tasks, such as staff planning, service (via robots), or even the training of restaurant staff using virtual reality, for example.

On the other hand, Oliver Feiler, Head of Market Intelligence at Rational AG, believes AI has great potential when it comes to dealing with data. “The speed at which AI can collect, deliver and analyze data is already impressive today. Kitchen equipment maintenance and servicing provides an example of a real-life application. In this case, you can predict imminent breakdowns before they are even apparent. The restaurateur and/or service technician is notified and the solution, for instance replacing worn parts, is put forward. Wear-related breakdowns can therefore be kept to a minimum, if not prevented altogether. This saves both time and money.”

Such a solution will be more in demand in the future than ever before. This is because, on the one hand, products are becoming increasingly complex and, on the other, there is already a global shortage of technicians who can carry out repairs and services at short notice. In the future, AI will be able to quickly and efficiently point out solutions for all error codes to every technician on site and perhaps even the restaurateur – all without having to search through countless manuals or other documents manually.

Limits of AI

When it comes to developing recipes, Feiler emphasizes that a chef’s creativity and unique skills cannot yet be replaced by artificial intelligence. In particular, he advises carrying out a plausibility check for AI-generated recipes.

The New York Times ultimate test, which was published in November of last year, also confirms something similar. According to author Priya Krishna, the Thanksgiving menu sounded promising, but was rather disappointing when it came to execution. Based on the feedback from taste testers, the food ranged from inedible to edible, but bland. To date, AI has not yet been able to write complete, plausible and tasty recipes. However, according to the authors, you can definitely already use it as a source of inspiration or to gather ideas for personalization. That said, AI is constantly evolving. So, who knows? Perhaps tasty AI-generated recipes will also be used in kitchens of the future.

Making the most of artificial intelligence

Despite the advantages of AI and digital innovations for the professional kitchen, restaurateurs often remain skeptical. Oliver Feiler emphasizes that gastronomers are generally open to innovations as long as they solve their problems and offer them advantages. Innovations must increase customer benefits and, for example, cushion the shortage of skilled workers. Paschmann goes on to say, “In general, we have found that innovations are embraced differently depending on the target group in question. System gastronomy, for example, is a real driver of innovation that challenges us time and again. The challenge is something we gladly take on, of course. For other target groups, we hold training sessions and live events so that everyone can experience the benefits of innovation themselves.”

Overall, it is clear that artificial intelligence in the hotel and gastronomy industry has potential, but also poses challenges. Careful integration of AI into existing operations and critically examining its applications are essential steps to both maximize the benefits of AI as well as minimize its potential risks.

TOP 6 applications and advantages of AI in the professional kitchen

1. Recipe development

AI can help develop new recipes by analyzing data on ingredients, taste profiles and nutritional needs and suggesting innovative combinations. However, you should check plausibility.

2. Optimizing food offers

By analyzing customer data and preferences, AI can help create personalized menus or individual recommendations for guests.

3. Optimizing cooking processes

With the help of AI, you can optimize cooking processes and improve the quality of the prepared dishes. For example, AI can automatically adjust the temperature and cooking time based on the properties of the ingredients or door opening times.

4. Content creation

With the help of AI, you can easily create content templates for websites, flyers or social media.

5. Employee training and further education

AI systems can also be used to train employees by providing interactive learning programs, tutorials or virtual simulations.

6. Data analysis and predictive maintenance

Increasing product complexity and a global shortage of technicians demand fast and efficient solutions. AI can predict wear and tear as well as provide rapid problem resolution when defects occur, and it can do so at a speed that seemed unthinkable until recently.

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