EXCLUSIVE: ‘Emerging chains could rip up the rulebook for traditional kitchens’

Budding restaurant start-ups with fresh ideas and a disruptive approach to business could lead to a dramatic rethink in the way that traditional kitchen spaces are planned and implemented.

That’s according to culinary consultant and former global food head of McDonald’s, Mike Faers, who suggests there is no reason why innovative operators can’t do for foodservice what Apple has done for retail.

Asked if he thinks kitchens will look radically different in five years’ time, especially with footprints shrinking and operators seeking faster ways of working, he said: “I think QSRs are pretty smart about their design and they have an established estate of properties that is generally fairly well-equipped and thought-through from a space point of view, so the bigger QSR chains don’t have to worry too much. I think the fast-casual, emerging chains space is where you will see quite radical shifts.

“I think you will see a removal of the traditional kitchen, and you will see that space becoming an assisted finishing space that is engaging with the consumer, so the consumer is part of that experience. Think about the Apple store, when you go into one there is not a tillpoint anywhere so they have completely reimagined what the shopping experience is like, or the Amazon store where everything is cashless.”

Mr Faers, who runs London-based Food Innovation Solutions (FIS), said if you look at the technology that is influencing changes in the consumer and retail landscape, it is ultimately driving out the cost of human labour. That challenge very much exists in the foodservice sector, too.

“Although I can see it coming I have mixed thoughts about that because I also want to preserve, and value very strongly, my roots as a chef. I want technology to help but not replace, and that’s the difference, but you will see a reimagination of how consumers buy food and the space and environment in which they do it, and therefore the kitchen may well become part of the front-of-house operation or there may be no front- and back-of-house at all, it may be just a space.”

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