For the first time since its inaugural Seattle event in 2015, the Smart Kitchen Summit brought its take on the food tech conversation to Europe. In Guinness’ iconic storehouse venue, established appliance brands such as Bosch Appliances and Thermomix mingled with the latest start-up ventures to enter the world of the smart kitchen. Electrolux, a global leader in home appliances, sponsored #SKSEurope (as the Twitter hashtag went) and secured their spot at the front-line of thoughtfully designed innovations.

As delighted as we were to have our hometown host the event (what do you mean we can walk to SKS this year?!), it must have been a no-brainer to choose Dublin as the European host city. We do have a few elements on our side, the least of which being our post-Brexit English-speaking advantage. As well as major US tech players such as Google, Facebook, and Apple having their European bases and tens of thousands of employees here, Ireland’s start-ups have a rich history of success (just look at Stripe, Intercom, and Fleetmatics).

For us, having the Smart Kitchen Summit at home was not only a chance to enjoy meeting with old and new acquaintances, but also to unveil some of the developments we’ve been working on with our appliance partners Kenwood and Bosch. The need for integration between brands was one of Recipe Guru’s main takeaways from this year’s SKS. Robust integrations are something we’ve already achieved with these partnerships, and we are constantly developing this ability to integrate other brands with our platform even further. If you missed out this year, here’s a few things that really stood out:

Chef Angela Malik speaks at SKS

Personalization

Chef Angela Malik, during “The Disruptive Chef: Cooking in The Technology Age”, spoke about the future potential of swallowable microchips that degrade naturally in your gut after a few months. These chips could transfer your preferences (or health requirements) directly to the smart building you’ve entered and lead to a meal personalized specifically for your body being handed to you without ever having to order.

James Shaw, the EMEA Kitchen Design Manager for Compass at Google, saw how integrating this technology could benefit Google’s in-office canteens: “Hyper-personalisation could improve Google employees’ personal well-being using the data stored on their phone or chip (…only if they wanted a chip!)”. If this is the future of personalization when it comes to recipes and meals, what’s happening in the here and now?

The cheerleaders for personalization believe that it seeks to unlock the right thing for the right person at the right time. Delivery of “the right thing, at the right time” has taken many forms depending on the provider. When put up against the convenience of services like Deliveroo and DropChef, a big challenge for smart kitchen brands is how to inspire people to actually make food more at home.

At Drop, we’re attempting to do this in a number of different ways – our collaborations with trusted brands brings together their decades of perfecting reliable hardware and our innovative software design to create a kitchen experience that adapts person to person.
What this means in practice is that if you have a kitchen with a smart connected oven and a stand mixer, Drop Recipes will take this into account and allow you to control them from the app whilst guiding you through a recipe. If your friend has a regular ol’ oven and a wooden spoon, the app will guide them through the exact same recipe and automatically make the necessary changes to tailor the recipe to what’s available.

Our view of personalization is clearly just one of many, but at SKS Europe this year, it was confirmed that tailoring to individual needs is not something we’re focusing on in a void, and that means some very cool things for the smart kitchen as a whole. 

Lulu Grimes on stage with a mic in hand

Appliance-ready Recipes

Lulu Grimes, of BBC Good Food, speaking on the panel ‘Personalized, Shoppable & Guided: Recipes Are Not Dead’ stated that “a recipe isn’t just a set of instructions, it can be a lot of things to lots of different people”, and described her vision of the digital recipe as something akin to an actual conversation, with home cooks able to chime in with suggestions via comments, to allow published digital recipes to continue to evolve. If your meals are delivered to you by an AI that has assessed your dietary needs using a formula, it’s very easy to imagine the future of recipes being pretty grim when it comes to flavor, color, and variety. That’s why at Drop, we’re taking traditional loved recipes from around the world and making them “appliance-ready”, keeping the heart and soul in cooking, but using modern appliances to make it more accessible to home cooks today

..new technology can educate and teach, if your appliance can be an educational tool it’s incredibly useful.

Lulu Grimes BBC Good Food
Chef domini kemp stands behind a thermomix at Drop's booth at Smart Kitchen Summit 2018

Co-opetition

It’s not competition, it’s not cooperation, it’s somewhere in the middle. This year’s SKS saw the announcement of several collaborations between major hardware brands and digital companies, such as Electrolux and Innit, SideChef and V-Zug, and of course our edible demonstration of Kenwood’s kCook integration with Drop software. Domini Kemp, co-owner of ITSA and best-selling author, whipped up some crème au chocolat and lemon curd to show off the kCook’s capabilities with the Drop Recipes app, whilst the Bosch oven with Home Connect was demoed using the same app. 

There was considerable discussion of "openness", revealing a realization that it's unrealistic to build a walled garden in the kitchen, and consumers are going to be drawn to appliance brands who embrace interoperability and encourage innovation kitchen-wide.

Tim RedfernHead of Innovation at Drop

As the smart kitchen develops, we’ll definitely see fewer appliances with their own bespoke apps, and more collaboration between brands to bring consumers a product that can take care of all their needs in the kitchen in one place, on one platform. 

At Drop, we’re lucky to partner with brands that share our vision of a unified kitchen, so we’re not restricted to one-off partnerships, but rather we aim to bring everyone to the same table (like that one house that always has the best parties at New Years, but with more meetings and less losing your shoes). With advancements in retail integration, guided recipes, and connected appliances coming from companies of all sizes, all over the world, it’s clear the future of the smart kitchen is cooperation.

Drop Favorites

Two women are visible behind a row of glass bottles with coloured liquid

FoodPairing’s Cocktail bar inspired the above face from Caoimhe Carton (background):
FoodPairing uses molecular science to create new flavor combinations by analyzing degrees of synergy between different ingredients at a molecular level. They demonstrated this at the Gravity Bar Cocktail party the night before SKS with a cocktail station that automatically created a drink for you based on the flavor preferences you entered into their iPad. It was enormously fun, and just the tip of the iceberg in terms of their promised capability.

Barilla’s 3D Printed Pasta caught the attention of Tim Redfern:
“I’ve never been impressed before in attempts to use 3D printing technology for food, but I think Barilla have identified a very plausible use for edible CAD in creating sculptural and decorative forms in Italian cuisine.” Learn more about it here.

Mitte was Maria Martonffy’s favorite (and the judges):
Winner of this year’s ‘Smart Kitchen Summit: Europe Startup Showcase’, this smart mineral water machine purifies and enhances water through a process inspired by the natural water cycle, and aims to help cut down on the absolute nightmare that is the disposable plastic bottle. You can learn more and pre-order yours here.

… and finally

In true Dublin fashion, we couldn’t have SKS Europe take place so close to us and not offer up an after-party. In what can often be a very competitive environment, we were so happy to share some Irish hospitality and connect the attendees and sponsors for dangerously delicious cocktails, locally made beer, great music and even better conversation. Thank you so much to everyone who came, and if we forgot to invite you, please accept our apology and drop by for a beer in the office the next time you find yourself in the neighborhood!

All images courtesy of Alan Rowlette Photography.

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Caoimhe Carton

Caoimhe Carton

Oh hai. I'm one of the marketeers at Drop HQ. I'm a vegetarian Dubliner, and am currently seeking advice on keeping plants alive at my desk. Please send all plant advice and inquiries to caoimhe@getdrop.com.