From the Computer History Museum in the
heart of Silicon Valley, it’s The Cube. Covering: Food IT: Form Fork to Farm.
Brought to you by Western Digital. Hey welcome back everybody, Jeff Frick here
with The Cube. We’re in Mountain View California at the
Computer History Museum at Food IT. Really interesting conference; about 350
people talking about the impacts of IT and technology in the agricultural space.
Everything from farming, through to how you shop, how you consume, and what happens
to the waste that we all unfortunately throw away, way too much of. We’re excited
to have our next guest Mike Wolf. He’s the creator and curator of The Spoon and
the Smart Kitchen Summit. Mike, welcome. Hey thanks for having me, I’m excited.
Absolutely. So first off before we jump in, what do you think of the show here?
It’s great. It’s very focused on agriculture and the food
chain, which is crucial. I focus a lot on the kitchen when food gets to our homes;
what we do with it, but this is where it all starts, so it’s really important.
It’s so much stuff going on with the kitchen, and food preparation of
all these services that will either bring you your meal, or they’ll bring you
like, pre-portioned and uncooked meals, so let’s talk a little bit; what is
smart kitchen summit and what is the spoon? so I focused on the smart home a
lot over my career. I’ve written a book on how to network your home, but about
four or five years ago I noticed no one’s really talking about how we’re
going to recreate the kitchen. We focused from a digital home perspective on the
living room. You know we saw the Netflix revolution over the top. You know we’ve seen
the huge market value creation in the living room, but the kitchen was kind of
left behind, so I said, let’s start a conversation. Let’s focus on how we can
recreate cooking in kitchen, and the Smart Kitchen Summit. It’s entering its third
year. It’s kind of become the preeminent event about how technology will reshape
how we get food, create our home, how we cook and how eat it. Which is funny
though because people would always say you know, oh the iPad on the front of my
fridge, and it’ll tell me when it’s time to go get milk. So clearly that’s a
pretty pretty low, not a real significant use case I would
imagine, there’s a lot more to it than that. Yeah I think you know, tablets and screens, and
connecting to things with apps. It’s like 5% of what’s interesting. I mean I think
if you look at the refrigerator, the internet refrigerator, I was just talking
to an LG guy. They created the first internet refrigerator in 2000, and it was
like twenty thousand dollars, and no one bought it, because I have everyone said why
would I want to connect my refrigerator refrigerator to the Internet? Right, right. I
think we’re kind of at this point now where now it becomes interesting. We can
maybe have the fridge understand what our food is. You know the fridge itself
is kind of the family bulletin board, so why not put a big screen on there if
it’s only a couple extra hundred dollars. Right. And so I think there’s all
sorts of ways in which we’re getting food like you said, new ways like Blue
Apron cooking by numbers services. New ways to cook food that are coming from
the professional kitchen, like sous vide. High precision cooking technology that’s
democratized through technology, and things like automated beer brewing appliances.
I’ve always wanted to brew beer, but my wife said no way you’re going to like
have the smelly beer here coming in my house, but if I can use technology to
make this automated and easy, I’m one of those guys to say let’s do that. Then I
could brag to my friends that have actually made beer at home. Right, right.
Well it’s funny because we saw this other thing in the kitchen not that long
ago right, where everybody had to have a wolf, and it was kind of this you know,
kind of professionalize your kitchen with all these really heavy-duty you
know, appliances, that really most people probably don’t need a wolf so they can
keep their flembae, you know at the perfect temperature for extended periods
of time. Yeah. So what are some of these things that are coming down the line
that people haven’t really thought of that you see as you study this space?
Well so our research shows that every one almost every age group is using more
digital technology in the kitchen, and that’s iPhones, smart phones, and tablets,
because what they’re doing is looking for what they’re gonna have for dinner.
So that starts the process of digitization of the kitchen, and so
you’ve seen almost for 15-17 years now, services like All Recipes, and Yummly,
creating kind of this digital recipe services. Now we’ve also seen like really
one of the most popular videos on the Internet; BuzzFeed Tasty was the biggest
video publisher for many months this year, doing couple billion views a year-
or month, of these simple cooking videos. So
a lot of it is very much generational. So Millennials are grabbing on to these how
to cook videos. They’re very interested in cooking, but the definition
of cooking is changing, and so what they’re seeing is worrying about cooking
through online, but also maybe applying cooking technology in a new way. Whether
that’s like a very simple cooking appliance, like a sous-vide circulator, or
maybe like an air fryer, or if you want to go high in something to get Joon oven.
So if you look forward, starting to add artificial intelligence, image
recognition, and these type of technologies to the cooking process;
it could make things a lot easier and make things faster and kind of give you
cooking superpowers that you may otherwise not have. Right, it’s so
interesting it like continues to be a trend over and over, it’s kind of the
hollowing of the middle, right, you are either- you don’t ever cook right, and
everything is Doordash or however you get your the meal, or you
kind of get to some of these specialty items where your way into it, as a
hobby and I mean those videos. The cooking videos are fascinating to me.
The popularity of those things. Yeah but if you’re kind of stuck in the middle in
the no-man’s land of what we think is maybe the traditional kitchen, that’s probably
not a great place to be. Yeah, I think you know, I’m that arc- I’m a different
architect depending on the day of the week right, I may be in the middle of the
week, I’m tired, I have kids, I don’t want to cook, maybe something that automates
my cooking, maybe makes it easy with the food delivery that’s fully cooked.
That would be a great idea, but maybe on the weekend I want to become like a
maker, and really like I say the only makerspace in the home right now
besides the garage, is a kitchen. It’s where I’m actually using my hands to make
stuff, and I think that’s great nowadays when we’re all spending so much time in front of screens, moving around ones and zeros with their
mouses, I think you know, our research shows that people want to cook, but the
definition of cooking is changing. So they may be assembling salads, and they’re
buying something from Costco and they’re calling that cooking, but I
think if we can have technology that allows us to actually make stuff in the
home where it’s fresh, it tastes good, it’s healthy, and we feel like we’re learning
a craft, I think there’s a lot of people that would want that.
It is so interesting. Those makers and craftsmanship; and you think back to kind of
the traditional you know, beautiful cookbooks right, that people would buy
maybe to actually use, maybe just because they want to be associated with that
type of activity, and those types of photographs and stuff. So it’s a very
different way to think about it as a maker versus you know, just got to get
the food out for the kids, I’m tired on a Thursday night at 6 p.m.
Yeah sometimes it’s just sustenance right; I mean that’s why packaged food is
great, like we like these protein bars. They’re expensive but they provide
everything we want, in like a flat piece of food, but at the same time,
there’s a there’s a whole food movement. You know, ever since John Mackey founded
Whole Foods back in the early 80s, until the time that Amazon acquired
it, the customer base has been growing. W hat I think is interesting is
we could potentially see the democratization of better quality food
as you see the decentralization of processed food, right. So over the past
hundred to 200 years all the technology around food has been towards centralized
processing, in putting it into cans, making it, but what happens is you take
all the nutritional value out of it. Right. But if you can start to think
about bringing fresher food in the home, a lower cost or optimized value chains like
what maybe Amazon could do with Whole Foods.
Maybe that brings fresher food to the home at a lower cost, or it gets beyond the five to ten percent of the consumer, which is buying from Whole
Foods. Right. It’s a high income type of retail channel right, but I think
everyone wants better food. So I think that’s where I think technology could
play a process. Well just specifically what are your thoughts on the on the
Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods and the impact of that, not only for those
two companies specifically but as a broader impact within the industry. I’m
excited for what Amazon could do with this technology, man. I live in
Seattle, so I’ve been watching their- what I would call lab experiments with Amazon
Go, which is this recreation of a grocery store. This idea of walk in and walk
out, don’t ever talk to cashier. That’s that’s really fascinating, and then you
look at Whole Foods which is a pretty traditional retailer even though it’s a
kind of created the organic food movement in a lot of ways. I think
bringing Amazon technology into there is really exciting. I also think it
validates the need for physical store fronts. I think Amazon’s been trying to
do online delivery; rolling trucks out your home. For 10 years, they’ve been
working on Amazon Fresh for 10 years, and they haven’t really reached massive scale. So I think this validates
the idea of a unique physical storefront those physical storefronts may look very
different in 10 years, but the fact that Amazon is going to need that as a
distribution point, as a point of presence in different neighborhoods, I
think is fascinating. All right well Mike, we’re almost out of time. I’ll give you the
last word. Where should people go to get more information about what you’re up to?
Yeah, go to the spoon.tech if you want to see our writing and podcast on the future of
food and cooking, and if you want to come to our event go to smartkitchensummit.com
All right, he’s Mike Wolfe I’m Jeff Frick You’re watching The Cube from Food IT. A
lot of really interesting stuff. Again, it’s all the way from the farm, the
germination of the seeds, all the way through to what you eat, how you eat, and
what you do with the stuff you don’t. So thanks a lot. Yeah, thanks. All right I’m
Jeff Frick. You’re watching The Cube. We’ll be right back after this short break.
Thanks for watching.