Fast Food for Foodies

“I have not had a brussells sprout for ten years, but I will have these four times a week.”

—Customer at LYFE Kitchen

You need a TurboChef impingement oven in your  life. And a Combi oven and a one-inch thick chrome grill and an energy saving cheese melter whose microswitches sense the weight of a plate to kick the burner into high gear and turn back to low as soon as it passes over. Also a dishwashing system that captures steam, condenses it and recycles the heat for the next wash.

Not in your kitchen, of course. These high tech appliances will be in a LYFE Kitchen near you so you can walk in, give your name and place your order, pay fast food prices for it and take a coaster to a table, where RFID strips under the table pick up the signal from the coaster and send it back to the kitchen so that in six minutes a runner can pop over, greet you by name, and serve you your artfully plated order of just-prepared organic free-range chicken, breaded and “unfried,” with veggies tossed with parsley, chives in a Dijon vinaigrette, all sprinkled with dried cranberries.

LYFE (Love Your Food Everyday) Kitchen is the brainchild of Mike Roberts, a thirty-year veteran and former CEO of McDonalds Corp on a mission to transform the world agricultural system for a second time. This time, Roberts envisions food that is healthy, sustainable, organic, eco friendly, and, by implementing an efficient supply chain, provided at fast food prices. The pilot store in Palo Alto is wildly popular, but scaling it up to Roberts’ goal of 500 or more stores within five years is daunting.

And, even if the issues of farming huge amounts of root vegetables and poultry organically can be overcome, will there be a significant market for this kind of offering?

Mike Roberts thinks so. In the current issue of Wired, Frederick Kaufman wrote:

“Market research Roberts did at McDonalds convinced him that mothers, the dominant decisionmakers about mealtimes, are more focused than ever on healthy food. So this time around, brussells sprouts and quinoa will enter the picture. This time around, the end result–the food–will look and smell and taste more like an entree from some bistro in Brooklyn than a 30–second stop along Fast-Food alley. But the process will be roughly the same…”

Road trips forty years ago used mean being on the lookout for the Golden Arches for Happy Meals for the kids and Big Macs and fries for us. These days, we query our iPhone: “Siri, is there a Panera in Gainesville?” “Yes, there is. Here’s how to get there from where you are.”

Tomorrow, I expect we’ll key “Nearest LYFE Kitchen, two orders of #2 (Salmon w/baby kale, farro, pomegranate seeds, dried crandberries, red onion, green onion, maple-chipoltle sauce)” into our car computer which will compute our ETA, transmit the order to the restaurant with our arrival time, and take over the operation of the vehicle while I sit back and write an essay for my blog.

Imagining the future is the key. The rest is just working out the details.



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