There is a hamburger machine, fully built, fully functional, and is able to blast out 360 “gourmet” burgers per hour – every hour of the day, everyday of the week. This mechanical chef even grinds the meat and cuts the fresh toppings to order. I doth hear the trumpets of the Four Burger Horsemen sounding in the distance as the end is nigh!
The nuts and bolts of this deviant contraption were put together by a team of engineers at Momentum Machines and the hamburger machine was given the warm and fuzzy name of “Alpha Machine”. It’s just the kind of name you’d expect from engineers who’ve never worked a day in a kitchen to name a hamburger machine. I can’t believe they couldn’t think of a better name than that. Even something as lame as “Burger Machine” or a campy futuristic “Burger Bot 1.0” would have been better.
What do I think about a Hamburger Machine?
Now you know a guy who goes by the handle of “The Burger Nerd” will instinctively have some deep seated issues with a blasphemous hamburger machine, but before you condemn me as being anti-technology or completely bias, here me out.
Momentum Machines state on their homepage “Our technology will democratize access to high quality food making it available to the masses.” I’m not sure who voted, or when the vote happened to turn line cooks into robots but I sure wish someone would have informed me so I could have filled out a ballot. I can’t help but feel Momentum Machines is out of touch with food and what people actually want from the experience of eating out. Currently the food scene around the globe is one of a renaissance period. A lot of chefs and restauranteurs are going back to grassroots and focusing on street food, local produce, farm to table, customer engagement, and affordable eats. Often we hear the story of a highly skilled chef leaving the confines of a kitchen to open a food truck and finding great success in doing so. On the home front, more and more people are learning how to once again cook for themselves and are rising to the levels of self taught chefs. People seem to want the future of food to be part of a human experience and not begging for a mechanical one.
Momentum Machines go on to say, “Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore.” Yes, nothing puts a positive spin on food quite like having robots make it. Mass production has always had a much more positive image than homemade or handcrafted. I do hope my sarcasm is apparent. Companies like McDonald’s have spent billions in advertising over the years just so they can throw off the notion they are a faceless, soulless eatery. In fact handmade, cooked to order, burger restaurants (such as Five Guy Burgers) have been rapidly gobbling up the marketplace from McDonald’s…so much so, that McDonald’s has taken notice and introduced a few experimental restaurants where they cook to order and you can choose your own toppings.
After reading through the pages of a heavy handed sales pitch for the hamburger machine on Momentum’s website, it is all to clear there is one purpose, and one purpose only for this bucket of spare parts and that is to make money. I’m not against making money, however, I think the fact that there are millions of successful restaurants around the world has long since proven the business model of humans cooking food.This machine is not about food at all and it certainly was not designed to build a better burger. However, this is not much of a surprise considering the background of its inventors are as follows:
“Our team was trained in mechanical engineering, control systems, and physics at top tier institutions: Berkeley, Stanford, UCSB, and USC. We draw from work experience that includes cutting edge firms such as: Tesla, NASA, Semiconductor Technology Associates, etc. Our investors are tier one venture firms and we are advised by the best in the restaurant industry.”
That’s exactly the credentials I want to hear when talking about gourmet burgers. They claim to be advised by the best in the restaurant industry? I’m going to assume “the best” does not include chefs or cooks or even dishwashers but rather refer to accountants and executives who’ve spent more time in board rooms than kitchens and who don’t actually eat at the restaurants they manage. Just the kind of people who think a hamburger machine is a great idea and that those darn cooks are getting in the way of making food profitable.
Maybe I’m naive, or maybe just old fashioned but I can’t think of a single example where a mechanically, mass produced food item turned out better than a homemade or handcrafted version. I can’t see a hamburger machine taking over the fast food industry…but then again, I’ve been known to be wrong on many occasions.
What are your thoughts on a hamburger machine? Is it a step in the right direction or a blight to the food industry?