“Hey, Google, help me be a better chef”

Understanding how Google might be able to help the chef of the future

Elizabeth Yorke
May 13 · 4 min read

Over the past year, although I haven’t been cooking as much (in a commercial kitchen) but I’ve noticed that I have been looking for more inspiration online and in real time. I lived on google translate for the majority of last year as I translated Italian, from talking to roommates to translating recipes and asking about ingredients at the market.

I also had major FOMO as I lived vicariously through Instagram watching Chef Thomas and Chef Prateek exploring Indian ingredients and start this incredible #Indianfoodmovement.

Technology was helping me understand food better. It was teaching me techniques, giving me information, constantly motivating me to do better and connecting me with some amazing chefs, cooks and food enthusiasts.

So back to Google I/O. Many say it lacks the glamour of an iPhone launch, the tension and drama of a Facebook keynote, but it did give me some food for thought.

Building a more helpful Google for everyone was what Sundar Pichai’s said Google was all about — so how might some of these new features help this new growing community of cooks and chefs?

Google Lens

Identifying Plants for the Local Food Movement:

Most of us chefs and cooks rely on ChefTzac’s Instagram to learn the names of seasonal fruits and vegetable. We either feel uncomfortable asking at the market for many fears —I don’t speak the language; I’m a trained chef, I should know this; it’s embarrassing to ask; What if I don’t understand or I don’t know how to cook it.

Google Lens can identify and run a simple search. Here are a few screenshots from Lens identifying my drumstick plant at home.

1. Google Lens identifies the drumstick plant; 2. As I scroll down I can learn briefly about it from wiki; 3. And I have options to go to a website or a google search on Moringa

Connecting digital information with things in the physical world — Learning new recipes and technique

During I/O 2019 Aparna Chennapragada announced a new feature of Lens that could help learning and creativity.

Culinary schools teach a specific amount of technique because of the limited time. Food is continuously evolving and maybe here’s a possible way chefs could access visual learning to master a technique.

In the video, Lens is pointed at a Bon Appetit magazine recipe and the step by step video instruction process comes alive.

Credit: Google

But what if you haven’t gone to culinary school?

Majority of kitchen workforces have no formal education. Yet when you go out to eat, you probably have a good meal. Learning in the kitchen is very dependent on who your head chef is and how passionate they find themselves about empowering their staff. What if cooks and restaurant staff take their learning into their own hands, literally, at the click of a button learn new techniques and recipes in their own language (see next)

Food is a universal language, and Google can help with translations

Kitchens are extremely diverse spaces. India has 22 official languages and many times kitchens tend to not function efficiently because recipes, directions, and instructions tend to get lost in translation.

Lens empowered Urmila.

Could this do the same to make cooks feel more included in such a diverse space?

Picks For You

Chefs are not just thinking about food on plates anymore. They are involved in Climate movements, Sustainable Development Goals, better food economies and cooking out social injustices. The chefs' role is changing and so is her/his Google search.

Picks for you, which will launch later this year, will understand your interests and curate recipes, podcasts, and events.

Think about it, you’ve just got into understanding about sustainable seafood in India and you are using InSeason Fish a lot.

Picks for You might just be able to send you some podcasts like this one, on sustainability In the field to learn more about the consumption of seafood in India while you prep your mise en place for the day.

Google Assistant

Google assistant is getting ready to be faster and more seamless than ever, without having to “hey google” all the time.

Could chefs leverage this, to record recipes, call a colleague that hasn’t come in, place orders for ingredients and manage the kitchen just from voice recognition?

I don’t know yet, but if my hands are busy kneading dough, or brunoise-ing onions, a simple “Hey Google” might just be able to make my day so much more easier.

Elizabeth Yorke

Written by

When in doubt steam some idli’s

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