The United States is indeed a melting pot of not only various kinds of cuisine but innovations in the food industry as well. The latest in that line is a Boston restaurant that is serviced by robot chefs!
The restaurant opened on May 3. It is the brainchild of four graduates of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Michael Farid, Kale Rogers, Luke Schlueter, and Brady Knight.
This is the story of how these four boys went from building a prototype robot chef in the basement of their dwelling while in college to opening a restaurant that serves up the kind of food they craved in college.
The idea behind Spyce and its robot chefs
The boys say on the official website of the restaurant: “We were four really hungry MIT students and water polo teammates tired of spending $10 on take-out lunches and dinners. Our athletic appetites required better nutrition but our student budgets didn’t allow for that kind of expense.”
They added: “While we ate our bland chopped salads and stir-frys, we dreamed of an alternative: a robot that cooked tasty and nutritious meals, served them, and cleaned up after.”
And that’s exactly what happened! “We were all robotics-obsessed engineers, so we quit yapping and built one in our fraternity basement. Two years and many burns, bruises, and brussel sprouts later, we’re opening our first restaurant and we couldn’t be more excited,” they say on the site.
So why the name Spyce? The boys explain on the official website: “After we built a prototype of our robotic kitchen in a tiny room in our fraternity basement, we couldn’t figure out what to call ourselves. One of our cofounders, Brady, came up with Spyce as a placeholder, so we could enter a competition for funding. It stuck.”
The chefs behind the robots
But MIT grads are not exactly qualified enough to design a menu, cook food and oversee the kitchen. That’s where Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud comes in. This French restaurateur is currently the culinary director of Spyce.
He is quoted as saying on the official Spyce website: “When Michael and his three classmates emailed me about a robotic kitchen that could elevate fast food, I was impressed. Not only had they guessed my email address correctly, the videolink to their cutting edge technology was unlike anything I’d seen before.”
Boulud added: “ The experience of the robotic kitchen, the food and the vision of the Spyce team far exceeded my expectations. Their passion and innovation needed a strong commitment to ingredients and excellent recipes.”
He elaborated: “So, in addition to becoming an investor, I accepted the position of culinary director, and invited Chef Sam Benson, who had worked for me at Café Boulud, to take on the executive chef role.”
A positive mission and vision
The “Spyce Boys” – as Michael, Kale, Luke and Brady like to call themselves – have some very specific plans and ideas for their restaurant. One thing they do is not serve meat. The FAQ section of the eatery’s site explains that is is because “beef production isn’t sustainable.”
They also tackle the issue of the use of fewer employees in answer to one of these questions. They say: “Well it’s a new model so we are not ‘cutting’ jobs, but our restaurant does have fewer employees than your typical quick service restaurant. The employees that we do have, we pay well.
They add: “The aim of this venture was to make tasty nutritious food affordable, and we do that by being as efficient as possible.”
See the robot chefs in action here: