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5 Technologies to Boost Training for Kitchen Staff

Daniil Klubov Founder & Ceo of spoon.tech
Audri Adhyas Paul
November 25, 2023
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The importance of effective training cannot be overstated in any sector, but even more so in the culinary world. New developments in technology are making kitchen operations more and more sophisticated. With this increased sophistication of the kitchens and the subsequent rise in customer expectations, there's an increasing demand for skilled kitchen staff. To match the required skill levels, you need high-level training programs. And this need for high quality and high-speed training has sparked an interest in leveraging technology in training and skill development. In this blog, we'll explore some of the modern technologies that are reshaping the way kitchen staff are trained, making learning more engaging, efficient, and tailored to individual needs.

1. The Rise of Mobile-First Learning Tools and Platforms

Almost 80% of restaurant and kitchen workers are deskless employees. Most of them don’t have the luxury of completing training from training manuals or desktop-based training platforms which are often the case in traditional training. They need to learn on the go, and therefore mobile-first learning apps and tools have become crucial in training kitchen staff. This is why modern-day training apps like spoon.tech offer employees the opportunity to learn from their phones anytime, anywhere.  

spoon.tech CEO Daniil says in a recent interview with the Digital Hospitality Podcast, “In our user interviews, we have seen that most of our users use their app during commutes using public transports and when they’re on the toilets.”  

Beyond training for their own kitchen processes, apps like ChefSteps or NYT Cooking offer an array of recipes, video tutorials, and tips that are easily accessible on a smartphone or tablet. These tools are perfect for quick references, learning new recipes, or brushing up on techniques. The convenience of mobile apps ensures that learning and development continue beyond the confines of the kitchen, encouraging constant skill enhancement.

Even for aspiring chefs or kitchen staff looking to advance their skills outside their organizations, digital learning platforms have revolutionized culinary training. These online resources offer a wealth of knowledge, accessible from anywhere at any time. Platforms like Rouxbe or the Culinary Institute of America's online courses provide comprehensive video tutorials, step-by-step guides, and interactive modules covering everything from basic knife skills to advanced cooking techniques. This accessibility allows aspiring chefs and kitchen staff to learn at their own pace, revisit complex lessons, and develop a deeper understanding of their craft outside the traditional classroom or kitchen environment.

2. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in Culinary Training  

The integration of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in culinary training represents a significant leap forward in how kitchen staff are educated and trained. These technologies offer immersive, interactive experiences that traditional methods can't match.  

VR allows trainees to immerse themselves in a virtual kitchen environment, practicing skills from basic knife skills to complex cooking techniques in a simulated yet realistic setting. This technology can be valuable for mastering intricate techniques or understanding kitchen layout and dynamics without the immediate pressures of executing dishes in a real kitchen.  

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AR, on the other hand, overlays digital information onto the real world, offering guided step-by-step instructions while working with actual ingredients. This blend of virtual and physical worlds creates a dynamic learning environment that's both engaging and informative. AR technology is being developed by companies like Kabaq, which specializes in creating augmented reality experiences for the food and beverage industry. Their technology can project detailed, step-by-step cooking instructions onto kitchen workstations, providing real-time guidance to trainees.

Integration of AR and VR does come with some potential downsides. For instance, VR requires specific hardware such as headsets and controllers, which can be expensive to purchase and maintain. The development and implementation of these technologies require substantial investment, which may be prohibitive for smaller establishments or educational institutions.

Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of VR and AR in culinary training are significant. They offer innovative ways to enhance skill development, provide safe and controlled learning environments, and introduce a level of interactivity that can increase engagement and retention of training material. As technology advances and becomes more affordable, it's likely that we will see more widespread adoption of VR and AR in culinary education and training programs.

3. Interactive Video Demonstrations and Webinars

Video demonstrations have always been a staple in culinary education, but the advent of high-quality, interactive video content has elevated this tool. Platforms like YouTube or specialized culinary channels feature seasoned chefs performing and explaining techniques in detail. Additionally, webinars have become a popular means for live interactive sessions, offering real-time Q&A opportunities, making the learning experience more engaging and personalized.

4. Gamification of Training

A large proportion of the current and upcoming kitchen workforce belongs to Gen-Z, who are accustomed to constantly consuming highly engaging content online. As a result, traditional organizational training is often perceived as boring by young people. They are often reluctant in engaging with the training materials, which then results in underprepared and underproductive staff. Gamification in training introduces elements of play and competition, which can significantly boost engagement and motivation among kitchen staff.  

A prime example of companies that offer gamified training solutions is spoon.tech. spoon.tech helps restaurant operators transform their processes - including all their menu items, how to cook them, and any special techniques - from a text or deck-based format into engaging contents and interactive games.

It saves significant time and effort for restaurant operators, and allows kitchen staff to challenge themselves with a series of culinary tasks and quizzes, ranging from identifying missing ingredients to executing complex recipes under time constraints. Users can earn badges and points, ascend leaderboards, and even receive tangible rewards upon completion of training.  

Gamification has proven results in increasing employees’ engagement with training and knowledge retention, as seen from tools like spoon.tech, and in other areas such as Duolingo. One very important benefit of gamification is that it makes training something employees WANT to do, rather than a mundane chore that they HAVE to do. This playful approach not only makes learning fun but also fosters a competitive spirit, encouraging staff to continually improve their skills.  

5. AI and Machine Learning in Personalized Training

The advent of AI and Machine Learning in culinary training is transforming how kitchen staff learn and develop their skills. Most people have gotten their first introduction to AI and its applications through OpenAI’s ChatGPT. ChatGPT can assist in recipe development by suggesting ingredient substitutions, providing cooking tips, or offering creative ideas for menu planning based on specific dietary requirements or flavor profiles.  

ChatGPT can also be employed in knowledge assessment and training. It can conduct quizzes, answer culinary-related questions, and provide explanations, making the learning process more interactive and engaging. ML algorithms can track a learner's progress and adapt the training material to suit their pace and skill level. This personalized approach ensures that each trainee is challenged appropriately and can master skills efficiently.  

For professional and aspiring chefs, AI-driven platforms like Chef Watson and Flavor Studio use machine learning algorithms to offer personalized recipe recommendations and flavor pairings based on individual preferences and dietary restrictions. These tools can analyze a chef's past creations, suggest improvements, or introduce novel ingredient combinations, thus broadening their culinary repertoire.

AI-powered video analysis tools can be used to assess skills. They can critique a trainee’s technique in real-time, offering immediate feedback. This approach is invaluable for honing skills like knife handling, plating, and cooking methods.

Moreover, AI can manage and adapt training schedules based on a trainee’s progress. Platforms utilizing machine learning can track a learner's progress through various modules, adjusting the difficulty and introducing new topics at an appropriate pace. This ensures that the training is always challenging yet achievable, keeping the learner engaged and motivated.

AI’s applications in restaurants has only began its rise, and we can hope to see many companies coming up with innovative ideas to use AI to address specific pain-points of restaurant operators in the near future.  

Implementing Technology in Kitchen Staff Training

While all these technological developments show us exciting prospects in culinary training, integrating them requires a strategic approach. It's crucial to assess the specific needs of the kitchen and the staff, considering factors like the existing skill level, the type of cuisine, and the available resources. It's equally important to choose technologies that are user-friendly and cost-effective. For instance, a small restaurant might start with simple mobile learning apps and gradually incorporate more sophisticated technologies like VR as the business grows.

The integration of technology in culinary training is not just a trend; it's a significant shift towards more dynamic, effective, and personalized learning experiences. From digital platforms to VR, each technological tool offers unique benefits, enhancing the way kitchen staff are trained. As we move forward, these technologies will continue to evolve, further revolutionizing culinary education and opening up new possibilities for aspiring chefs and kitchen professionals.

If you found that article helpful and want to integrate technology to train your kitchen staff, contact spoon.tech by filling out this form. You can also reach out to us via LinkedIn, call us at +43 670 655 56 82 or e-mail us at hello@spoon.tech.

Daniil Klubov Founder & Ceo of spoon.tech
Audri Adhyas Paul

Hi, I'm Audri, a Master's student in Digital Economy at Vienna University of Economics and Business, and an enthusiast of the food and hospitality sector. Digital transformation in the hospitality sector is an intersection of my practice and passion, and I love to write on that topic. Let's connect on LinkedIn to chat more!

Audri Adhyas Paul

Hi, I'm Audri, a Master's student in Digital Economy at Vienna University of Economics and Business, and an enthusiast of the food and hospitality sector. Digital transformation in the hospitality sector is an intersection of my practice and passion, and I love to write on that topic. Let's connect on LinkedIn to chat more!

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