Robotic Chef Sally Makes Salads, Takes Jobs


Silicon Valley’s newest celebrity chef goes by just one name, Sally, and as Bloomberg reports, this chef has just one specialty: salad.

Still, Sally will make you the most perfectly proportioned salad you’ve ever eaten: through science.

Bloomberg goes on to note that Sally occupies about the same amount of space as a dorm room refrigerator, and uses 21 different ingredients - including romaine, kale, seared chicken breast, Parmesan, California walnuts, cherry tomatoes, and Kalamata olives - to craft more than a thousand types of salad in about 60 seconds, while the customer watches the process. The machine weighs in at 350 pounds, making it more appropriate for industrial settings than for home kitchens at the moment. “Sally will be going on a diet,” said its creator, Deepak Sekar, 35, founder of Chowbotics Inc., looking into his and Sally’s future.

The benefits of Sally are manifold, according to Sekar. “Sally is the next generation of salad restaurant,” he claims, comparing it to chains such as Chopt and Fresh & Co. For one thing, a robot can make salad faster than a human can. Also, you will know precisely how many calories your salad is delivering; there won’t be the problem of consuming one piled high with garnishes that turn out to be more fattening than a burger. And it’s more hygienic to have a machine prepare your salad than to have multiple people working on a line—or worse still, a serve-yourself salad bar.

Sally does require a human set of hands to prep the ingredients that go into its canisters, which are then installed in the robot. (Sekar called the process of chopping ingredients in the machine "too complicated right now," although it's something he promises for the future; he offered an analogy: "It's like paper getting stuck in a printer; it shuts down the process.")

This spring, Sally will debut in Silicon Valley, at Mama Mia’s, a fast-casual restaurant in Santa Clara, Calif., and at the corporate cafeteria at H-E-B Grocery Co. in Texas. The public launch will come on April 13 at co-working space Galvanize in San Francisco, whrre the public will be able to order Sally's salads. Sally’s current list price is $30,000; there will be an option to lease one for about $500 per month. Chowbotics will start delivering pre-orders of Sally in the third quarter.

Sekar also brought in Google’s original chef, Charlie Ayers to be Chowbotics's executive chef.

 
 

“A few of the things that I love about robots is that they don’t come in late, they don’t talk back, and they’re always accurate,” said Ayers over the phone. “And the labor savings.”

At Google, Ayers said, he first entertained the idea of a food robot. Ayers doesn’t lose sleep over the inevitable loss of kitchen jobs in Silicon Valley

 
 

“I don’t feel like I’m betraying my brothers and sisters by replacing them,” he said, resolutely.

 

“It’s happening in every industry now. You can either fight it, or be on the team that makes it happen.” He added: “People will find other things to do. Like fixing salad-making robots.”

Easy for the 56th Google employee to say now...

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