According to The Australian Financial Review, Silicon Valley's newest celebrity chef goes by just one name, Sally. This chef has just one specialty: salad.
Still, Sally will make you the most perfectly proportioned salad you've ever eaten: through science. Sally is a green-and-brown robot, a brand-new creation from Chowbotics (that's a real name) and a major new player in a potential multibillion-dollar market for food-service robots.
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 (159 kilograms), 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, looking into his and Sally's future.
"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, California, 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, where the public will be able to order Sally's salads.
Sally's current list price is $US30,000 ($39,650). There will be an option to lease one for about $US500 a month. Chowbotics will start delivering pre-orders of Sally in the third quarter.
Sekar hopes to see Sally installed soon in hotels, where business people check in late and room service is dreary, as well as at convention centres, airports, and gyms. Sally will be a key amenity for fast food chains such as McDonald's, exponentially expanding the array of fresh offerings.
According to Sekar's plans, Sally's next incarnation will be as an instantaneous deliverer of ethnic foods — Chinese, Mexican, or Indian — possibly even breakfast, depending on the demand. Much further down the line, Sekar envisions home versions of Sally.
"Remember the first computers in the '60s were the size of a room. An affordable home food robot might not take decades to create, but it won't be next year."
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