As a chef I know the value of technology in commercial kitchens, but I also know that much of the way we cook has not changed for some three or four millennia. Cooking is an old art, possibly the oldest art of all; with apologies to lovemakers everywhere. When we take up our mortar and pestle, although most homecooks cannot be bothered and will use a blender or food processor, we are utilising technology developed some four thousand year ago. The fact of the matter is that you cannot achieve the same result with a food processor as you can with the mortar and pestle. You cannot get the same intensity of flavours with a whirling blade, as you can with a crushing grind that releases the oils.
IT in the Kitchen of Tomorrow
As human beings in the modern era we have been in thrall to labour saving devices. Americans and their wondrous white goods industries have given us refrigeration and whipped cream in cans. Short cuts in the kitchen, however, do not always lead to buried treasure. A lot of the food that we eat and which is sold in our supermarkets has remarkably little flavour. If you chill everything down all the time, you are minimising flavour; only ice cream gets better with extreme cold. Preserving food through refrigeration has made things safer, but at the cost of real flavour. Kitchen renovation ideas continue to fluctuate from old to new.
So, what are the new technological developments happening in twenty first century kitchens. Well, some folks are very excited by food processors that also cook the food. The thermomix is the everything in one box kind of culinary technology, which appeals to people, who I think, don’t really like cooking at all. For many people cooking involves way too much getting your hands dirty kind of activity. Ingredients like onions and garlic are not very friendly to sensitive people, they spray a bitterness that brings tears and stink to high heaven.
Modern home kitchens today, often, resemble something out of Star Trek, with designer cook tops and digital displays. Lots of folks would like a kitchen where you can deposit ingredients at one end and gourmet dishes come out of the other end. Plus, machines do all the dishes simultaneously and, even, put them away. Fridges are now telling their owners what they contain and the state of the produce. The soul of cooking remains a sharp knife in the hands of a well-tested practitioner. All the bells and whistles in the world will not replace the hands, fingers and nose of a good chef. Mr Spock might enjoy a thermomix, but Captain Kirk, I bet, would like to get his hands into the dough.