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kottke.org posts about delivery

Cooking As A Service

posted by Tim Carmody   May 10, 2019

Alex Danco looks at some short-term and long-term trends and concludes that we may be on our way to a future where most of our cooking is outsourced to other parties.

As Cooking As A Service expanded from [less than] 10% to 25-30+% of our eating, we grew to consume and expect a far greater selection and variety of food compared to when we did all our cooking ourselves. Our consumption choices around what food we eat gradually pivoted from “What am I able to cook for myself” to “Is this exactly what I want to eat, yes or no?” Once you transition into “is this exactly what I want, yes or no” territory, it’s very hard to go back; it becomes a part of the standard of living that we expect….

From a couple of anecdotal conversations I’ve had with restaurant managers about this, it seems like once you open yourselves up as a restaurant that can be found on the delivery apps, a huge percentage of your kitchen volume switches over to fulfilling those orders, and your front-of-house costs get hung out to dry as increasingly unnecessary. Flexible, modular kitchens that are available for rent for any chef who wants to cook in it, and that have easy access to delivery cars and which pay for no front-of-house extras seem pretty obviously like the next iteration of back-end Cooking as a Service, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them pop up everywhere soon enough. If they can collectively bring down the cost of outsourced cooking another 20-30%, I think the economics start looking pretty compelling for outsourced cooking (including delivery) to effectively pay for itself out of the savings incurred by paying for ingredients and cooking equipment in bulk. At that point, kitchens start to truly become optional.

What I think is compelling about this argument (and it’s worth reading in full) is that it isn’t driven by a single mover: e.g., delivery apps, or supermarket prepared foods, or fast food, etc. It’s a whole suite of cultural transformations that are changing all at once, but all moving more or less in the same direction, towards less cooking being done in the home.