Fake Food

Hard to escape the trend of dark kitchens that will be considered, in a couple of years, as one of the major impacts of the health crisis on consumer attitudes. In other times, who would ever have imagined a restaurant without a dining room and also without a cook? Without a dining room because, in a dark kitchen, the dishes are served as soon as they are ready, not on tables but on scooters or bicycles to be delivered before they get cold. The restaurant will be your home. Without a cook, because the dishes don’t require any more skills than those needed to peel potatoes. All you need to know is to read a technical sheet that outlines precisely the different steps of assembling ingredients, weighed to the gram, that will lead to the realization of a dish perfectly in line with its promise carried by Instagram. This is far from the idea of cooking as the mastering of a skill, made of expertise, intuition and experience developed over time. Dark kitchens do not only influence the organization of restaurants, but also what we eat… 

By the way, what do they offer? Their business model being dominated by a quest for efficiency… Burgers, of course. The new pizza, minus the cost of the oven. But also, from now on, poke-bowls, Vietnamese bo-buns, Korean fried chicken (with sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds) and nice looking Asian club sandwiches. A (very) limited number of dishes, all conceived to be made quickly (about ten minutes between the order’s validation and its delivery to the driver), to satisfy a legitimate desire for renewal without causing too much hesitation and to be suitable for containers specifically designed to ensure a “fit” delivery.

Finally, unlike restaurants, which are often only commercial names, dark kitchens are brands that need to be positioned and fostered with beautiful stories. A celebrity chef, cool and passionate young people or exclusive recipes… The mechanisms are pretty much the same and the objective is, of course, to create a sense of closeness and commitment through a sustained presence on social media. Isn’t it quite strange to think that branded content has become more important than food content?

So What ?

Dark kitchens stand between fast food and traditional restaurants. Between the accessibility of the former and the instagrammability of the latter. By hybridizing the present, we see the future emerging…

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