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Hot stuff! Insights from the IoT Catering Summit

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Next Article The dream catcher

Cooking is analog art at its best. There’s something to touch, see, smell, taste. Craft and emotions prevail – chilly computer technology has no place in the warm, sizzling empire of chefs. However, the Internet of Things still makes it past the kitchen door.

At the innovative catering summit, to which Rational invited experts from the fields of technology and gastronomy, you could see what this means and how to work with it in a skillful way. Since the Summit was truly digital, even delegates from Peru, Mexico and Singapore took part via an event app!

In an industry as sensory and product-oriented as gastronomy, the advantages of modern technologies are often not immediately apparent. But particularly in catering, which involves large quantities, future technologies are developing previously unimagined potential. To discover this, RATIONAL hosted the Global Catering Technology Summit 2019. The really big players came – and the results were impressive.

Rational Catering Summit
The main message of the two-day summit was “time is of the essence”. “The technology that our customers use in their everyday lives is advancing rapidly and the catering industry has to keep up with this,” says Adam O’Connor, International Director – Contracted Foodservice at RATIONAL. “It’s amazing what you can do with the latest apps – and a lot has happened in the last year and a half,” observes the specialist. “In London, there are cafés that handle everything digitally – from replenishing the storeroom, to taking orders from guests and making table reservations. They even process all payments, including supplier invoices & of course customer cards and discounts in this way,” . His conclusion: “This is not something for the future, the future is today! The catering industry needs to adapt, and to win, businesses must do so as quickly as possible.”

This is just one of the many important findings from the Summit, which took place at RATIONAL’s headquarters in Landsberg am Lech, Upper Bavaria, at the beginning of November 2019. Participants from the  industry as well as prominent speakers discussed the status quo and the future of the out-of-home sector and its technological possibilities. Last but not least, the sophisticated  ConnectCooking was presented, with its exciting options and latest add-ons.

Mark Bouch Managing Director of European agency Leading Change offered a highlight with his talk on professionally dealing with change, which is shaping the world of today as well as tomorrow. The message: this change can be managed.

Mark Bouche at the Catering Summit

Mark Bouch

Another aspect that arose is that the possibility to offer new technologies is only half the battle – especially in catering. Because one thing is clear: in a place where priority remains  on solid craftsmanship with tangible results in a workplace that is still largely analogous, even the most sophisticated technology seems to be in a losing position. After all, those who provide abstract technological solutions here do not necessarily gain understanding!

For Adam this means technology alone is not the answer – it must also be carefully implemented to suit the industry. The catering summit also made this very clear. He sums it up as follows: “We need to focus much more on how to bring technology to users in a way  that they accept and realize its full potential. These need to be seen as the required tools for future chefs”

And that’s a huge deal. In 2020, digital tools will make the kitchen more efficient, counteract food waste and even ensure consistent quality – a dream come true for everyone who wants to inspire guests every day without ever losing sight of economic concerns. According to the specialists  from RATIONAL, 15 % less labor costs, 30 % less costs for electricity and water as well as 50 % less food waste are all possible through the professional use of modern technology.

So that this didn’t just remain dry theory, the participants could learn for themselves how modern technology can be used to increase efficiency and quality in an interactive workshop.

Rational Catering Summit Tech
The workshops in general were a highlight for many participants at the event. Another workshop directly explored the economic benefit – after all, state-of-the-art kitchen technology comes at a price. Smart caterers carefully pondered the following question: How do we move our industry from this question of cost to a question of sensible, strategic investment?  The workshop showed how to plan with confidence. A workshop was also offered for creating a concrete business plan. In his workshop, change expert Mark Bouch showed how these plans can be effectively implemented in practice.

Speaking of implementing, various pilot projects from connecting kitchens globally to a first fully digital dark kitchen showed how the possibilities of modern technology can already be fully tapped today. In short: A summit by  professionals for professionals . No wonder then that many participants feel now that after the event is before the event. The next summit will take place in November 2020.


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