What did we ever do before microwave ovens, or bar codes, or word processors, or...well, you get the idea. As new technologies come along and are broadly adopted, they change the way we think about how we do things and they make us wonder how we could ever have gotten along before.
This process is continuous and often invisible. Consider the internet. Though it's been around in the broad culture for under a decade, the concept of being "online" has permeated most of our lives so thoroughly that it's hard to imagine there could ever have been a world without email, or a company listing without a website address.
The same is true in the professional world of foodservice. While many basic kitchen technologies remain the same as they have for decades—a gas burner is a gas burner, after all—many have been subtly upgraded in ways that make modern foodservice operations more efficient: freezers with better insulation, fryers that extend oil life, griddles with more consistent surfaces.
At FM, we have often speculated about new applications we believe may significantly change the way food is produced, or business is transacted, in onsite environments.
For this story, we've tried to peer into the crystal ball and identify some we feel hold particular potential. Some are not yet used in onsite foodservice, some not anywhere in foodservice, even though they hold some promise to benefit our industry; others are in place at a few pioneering operations. Still others are in wide use, but in ways that only touch on the possibilities they may have in the future.
We've tried to keep our speculations to the realm of the near-future-plausible, so you won't see anything about zero-gravity coolers, ion beam slicers or food delivery systems using Star Trek-like "transporters" ("beam me up a sandwich, Scotty..."). Perhaps next time...