The Weekly Spoon for February 22nd: Flavor as a Technology, ChefSteps Meat Marketplace, KitchenBowl/ABC, FeedMe

We publish a weekly newsletter at The Spoon. You can subscribe here and see back-issues here. Starting this week, we will also begin publishing the weekly newsletter here on the SKS blog. 

One thing I've learned about having a conference about innovation in food and cooking is that you learn a whole lot just by talking to people who come to your event.

One of those people is Mikel Cirkus. I met Mikel at the startup showcase the first night of SKS 2016, and when he told me he travelled the world to keep on top of global flavor trends for Firmenich, the world's largest privately own flavor and fragrance company, I thought that sounded like maybe the coolest job ever created.

The more I talked to Mikel, the more I became fascinated with the idea of how technology is impacting flavor trends around the world. 

A few things became evident pretty quickly based on these conversations:

  • Flavor trends are accelerating with modern technology. What may be an inventive treat created by someone in a mom and pop shop in Dublin could be next year's global flavor trend as ideas and flavors travel at lightning speed
  • New technologies in the home are going to unlock new ways to create and enhance flavors. New cooking, delivery and food creation technologies are going to offer new opportunities for packaged food, food delivery and fresh food companies in the home to create exciting new flavors in their products.
  • Lastly, flavor is in many ways a form of technology. Just as communication or transportation is a technology that has witnessed large advances over the past many decades, we're in an era where science is advancing the technology of taste to create newer flavors faster and faster. 

I sat down with Mikel and R. Matthew Walter to discuss this new world of taste in the most recent episode of the Smart Kitchen Show.  I learned a whole lot and hope you do too. 

We have lots of other great new stories at The Spoon, including ChefSteps' new effort to create an online marketplace to connect consumers with cattle ranchers, the story of KitchenBowl's acquisition by cooking studio giant ABC, the new food delivery aggregator FeedMe and much more. 

Also, remember you can use the discount code NEWSLETTER to get 15% off of tickets for SKS17. Now is a great time to buy since we are offering heavily discounted tickets for our Super Early Bird tickets. You can use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or simply go to the SKS17 website and use the code NEWSLETTER at checkout.

Talk to you next week.


P.S. If someone forwarded this newsletter, why don't you subscribe yourself to get the once-a-week must-read update on the future of food, cooking & the kitchen?

Updates from

The Spoon

Analyzing the future of food, cooking & the kitchen.

In the 02/22/2017 edition:

Former HBO and Porch Execs Create FeedMe, An Aggregator For Food Delivery

By Ashley Daigneault on Feb 22, 2017 06:48 am
Jason Allen is no stranger to the concept of “website-aggregator” as a business model. As the former CTO of, Allen was hired in 2014 to help the home professional marketplace pair its service of helping homeowners find people to help them with work around the house with Houzz-like portfolios to show off what’s possible in […]
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Podcast: Is Flavor a Technology?

By Michael Wolf on Feb 21, 2017 12:58 pm
Is flavor a technology. Yes.
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June Adds Multiple Pairing As More Kitchen Devices Get Over The Air Updates

By Michael Wolf on Feb 21, 2017 06:30 am
As kitchen devices become more connected, over-the-air updates will become more commonplace.
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Why Amazon Needs Automation To Drive Retail Profit

By Ashley Daigneault on Feb 21, 2017 05:39 am
Amazon is one of the biggest retailers in the world, with total value at the end of 2016 surpassing the value of other U.S. retail giants like Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Target, Sears, Macy’s and Nordstrom’s combined. So at $355.9 billion market value, it’s a little surprising to see Amazon continue to post slim profit margins on its […]
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A Bittersweet Ending And New Beginning For KitchenBowl’s Waliany

By Michael Wolf on Feb 20, 2017 10:46 am
Last fall when I reached out to KitchenBowl founder Ryan Waliany about speaking at the Smart Kitchen Summit, he told me he was in the process of acquisition talks for his company, and because of the likelihood that he would be in the middle at the deal at the time, he would have to decline. […]
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Does The Shape Of Your Spoon Impact Taste? Apparently, Yes.

By Ashley Daigneault on Feb 20, 2017 08:17 am
Learn how two researchers are using innovative design concepts - and a spoon - to change our perception of a food's taste.
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ChefSteps Working On Marketplace To Connect Cattle Ranchers With Consumers

By Michael Wolf on Feb 20, 2017 04:00 am
Just last week, ChefSteps announced the rollout of a new Facebook Messenger bot to assist users of its Joule sous vide cooker in the process of making a meal. This just a few months after adding an Alexa skill for the Joule, and we know from conversations with the company they have plans to create a platform that […]
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Inirv Retrofit Kitchen Kickstarter Surpasses Goal

By Ashley Daigneault on Feb 17, 2017 05:49 am
The 2016 Smart Kitchen Summit’s startup showcase was home to many exciting new companies showing off connected and high-tech devices for kitchens of the future. One of those companies, Inirv, had a safety system designed for stoves that highlighted the importance of retrofit solutions in the smart home. While many are building connectivity and smarts […]
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IoT Innovator Smallhold Sees Minifarms as Big Business

By Allen Weiner on Feb 17, 2017 05:48 am
Believe it or not, those mushrooms you had in your go-to restaurant’s nightly pasta special were grown in the back, between the walk-in fridge and the spice cabinet. Home grow systems are the buzz, keeping in mind that not everyone is blessed with a green thumb or the time and energy to maintain an indoor […]
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Research: People Prefer Grocery Stores To Automated Delivery…For Now

By Amy Cravens on Feb 16, 2017 05:00 am
You know those time when you’re standing at the fridge,  pulling out the things to prepare dinner, and realize you’re missing a key ingredient? Frustrating, right? But here’s the thing: nowadays all this could have been avoided with a little planning and the automated delivery services now available. And make no mistake: grocery delivery services […]
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The Smart Kitchen Summit Is Back In October

The Smart Kitchen Summit is back!

We're extremely excited to announce the third annual SKS will take place on October 10-11, 2017 at Seattle's historic Benaroya Hall. That's right, this year SKS will be two full days, featuring all that you've come to love about the industry's must attend event focused on the future of cooking and the kitchen:

Amazing Content: TED-style talks, fireside chats and panels on the main stage of Benaroya Hall and in-depth break out sessions exploring food discovery, cooking automation, kitchen commerce, future interfaces and much much more.

The SKS Startup Showcase: our startup event highlights 15 of the most exciting innovators in the cooking and kitchen.

Find that partner: We'll have plenty of networking opportunities for our attendees to find partners, discuss new projects and even start working on a new deal or two.

In short, the Smart Kitchen Summit will be bigger and better than ever. In just two years, SKS has become the go-to event for the home appliance, food, retail and technology industry to help define the future of the connected kitchen.

Will you be there?

What Now?

If you want to attend SKS, now is the best time to buy tickets. That's because for the next two weeks only, we'll have our best available pricing by combining our Early-Early Bird ticket with this one-time, limited 25% discount code. There are only 50 of these, so use it before they're all gone. You can use the discount code EARLY at checkout or simply click this link.

If you want to speak at SKS or just have a great topic idea, we'd love to hear from you. We're committed to making SKS amazing and your contributions are a big part of that.

If you would like to sponsor at SKS and reach the most decision makers in the future of food, cooking and the kitchen? Connect with us to get started.

If you want to know a little more about the SKS experience, you can check out pics and videos of SKS16 here.

See you in October!

One of Croatia's Biggest Packaged Food Companies Just Invested In A Robot Chef Startup

Late last year, one of Croatia’s biggest packaged food conglomerates, Podravka, invested in a robotic home chef startup called GammaChef.

It’s an interesting move for such a storied company. Podravka, which was founded in 1934, started as a fruit factory before eventually becaming nationalized as part of Yugoslavia in 1947. With the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 90s, Croatia gained independence and soon the company was privatized. Now, nearly 80 years after its founding, the company has invested in its first startup, a robotic home cooking company.

What about this robotic cooking startup did Podravka find interesting? Find out over at The Spoon where we interviewed GammaChef's CEO, Dražen Drnas.

Check out our CES coverage at The Spoon!

In case you haven't noticed, we've shifted our smart kitchen and foodtech coverage from this blog to the Spoon, our new editorial site focused on the future of food, cooking and the kitchen.

We will continue to use this blog to highlight Smart Kitchen Summit news (including SKS17 - stay tuned for news VERY soon), but make sure to check out The Spoon for daily coverage of companies, deals and trends shaping the future of the connected kitchen!

Smart Kitchen Notes: SKS16 Pics are Here, Teforia Raises $12 Mil, SideChef Launches CHiP

This is Smart Kitchen Notes, our newsletter with news and analysis about the connected kitchen and the Smart Kitchen Summit. 

In This Edition...

  • SKS16 Pics
  • SideChef announces CHiP, a smart cookie oven
  • Teforia infused with $12 Million series A
  • Juicero's Doug Evans hands CEO reigns to Coca-Cola exec
  • Interview with culinary madman & inventor, Dave Arnold
  • Wall Street Journal's Wilson Rothman on the future of cooking
  • Hands-on with the Nima gluten sensor
  • What does the Mirai botnet attack mean for the smart kitchen?
  • Amazon announces 60 new Dash button partners

The Smart Kitchen Summit was only a month ago, but we've already seen lots of action in the connected kitchen since Seattle including new funding for Teforia, SideChef launching their own hardware and a new CEO at Juicero.

But first, let's talk pics. We knew we wanted to document our second annual Summit with photos, and that's why we tapped the talents of two amazing photographers. The first is Pinar Ozger, who not only is the go-to photographer for events from the likes of Gigaom, but also is an award-winning documentarian. Pinar captured the main conference day and you can find all those pics here. 

The Startup Showcase was photographed by the talented Heather Colwill, a good friend who I knew would capture the excitement on display through the 15 innovative startups who participated in the event. 

We also have started to post videos of the sessions over at the Spoon and we'll keep putting up new content over the next couple weeks.Check those out here.

If you haven't yet subscribed to the Spoon newsletter, please do so now.The Spoon is our site where we are tracking the evolution of the connected kitchen, the future of cooking and more on a daily basis.

We've had lots of inquiries from folks interested in contributing to the Spoon - if you have a good idea for a thought piece on this space, send us a message and we can chat.

Now for the news:

SideChef Continues Expansion Efforts With CHiP Cookie Oven

SideChef is having a busy year. In April they announced their intention to move beyond a cooking app to create a smart kitchen software platform for hardware makers. Then came the hire of former DACOR President, Steve Joseph, as their Chief Product Officer. Then came a partnership with Chef’d to create chef-curated meal delivery service.

Tea Startup Teforia Gets $12 Million Infusion In Series A Round

Last year at the inaugural Smart Kitchen Summit, there was a small team gathered around a high-top round table pouring delicious tea for Summit attendees. Their startup, Teforia, was still relatively unknown, having officially introduced itself only a week earlier. A few months later, Teforia announced a $5.1 million seed funding round and began the work of evangelizing the magic its technology was attempting to bring to tea drinkers everywhere. Accepting around 500 pre-orders to early backers, the company is now about to start early shipping and has just announced a $12 million Series A round led by Translink Capital.

Juicero’s Doug Evans On Why Now Was The Right Time To Step Down As CEO

Less than two weeks after he appeared on stage at the Smart Kitchen Summit, Juicero’s Doug Evans made a splash last week by announcing he was stepping down as the company’s CEO and handing the day to day reigns of his high profile connected juicer company to former Coca-Cola North America President Jeff Dunn. Evans will remain Chairman of the company and focus on building strategic relationships.

Interview With the Greats: Dave Arnold on Innovation in the Kitchen

Dave Arnold never stops. The fortysomething owner of Manhattan cocktail bar Booker & Dax is exactly the kind of madman inventor that we need to push the food world forward, and lucky for us, he’s always working on a cool project. Even luckier, he always wants to tell you all about it.

Wall Street Journal’s Wilson Rothman Talks About The Future of Cooking

As the personal technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, it’s Wilson Rothman’s job to write about the technology that impacts consumers in their everyday life. Whether e-readers, Macbooks, or new mobile phones, if it’s a popular consumer platform, chances are Rothman has covered it.

Hands On With The Nima Gluten Free Sensor

After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder over a year ago, I dove into researching how I could be proactive. What kinds of vitamins, foods, exercises could I take on to stave off the effects of the disease and remain a healthy thirty-something mom with a busy job and personal life? It didn’t take long to discover that things like gluten and dairy were among the top triggers of inflammation in the body. I began the process of removing them from my daily diet.

An Explainer: The Impact of The Mirai Botnet Attack On The Smart Kitchen

Last week, one of the worst fears of Internet of Things (IoT) industry insiders was realized when someone took advantage of security holes in connected devices like netcams and home routers to create a botnet attack on popular websites like Twitter and Soundcloud.

Amazon Announces The PoopBag Button (And 59 More Brands) As Dash Continues To Grow

If you think Amazon is betting the future entirely on the voice interface, think again. That’s because despite a huge bet on Alexa and all things voice, the company is also ensuring our homes will be filled with lots of new physical interfaces in the future, especially those tailored towards replenishing our cupboards and closets with everything from toilet paper to garbage bags.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for updates in the coming month on SKS17 and other events.

- Michael Wolf

Smart Kitchen Summit 2016 Pictures Are Here!

Hard to believe SKS16 was almost a month ago, but don't worry, we've got some pics to relive an amazing week of conversation, education and collaboration.

We all the pics from the Startup Showcase and the full conference main day. Check them out!

A few of our favorites:

Nathan Myhrvold talking dino burgers and the future of cooking

Nathan Myhrvold talking dino burgers and the future of cooking

Nikhil Bhogal of June listening to's David Kender

Nikhil Bhogal of June listening to's David Kender

Members of the audience listening to an SKS16 session

Members of the audience listening to an SKS16 session

The Startup Showcase: a packed room featuring lots of cool innovation

The Startup Showcase: a packed room featuring lots of cool innovation

We'll also have some of our videos up at The Spoon. Keep checking back there for more videos in coming days. 

Q&A With NXP's Dan Viza

NXP's Dan Viza

NXP's Dan Viza

Today's Q&A is with Dan Viza, the Director, RF Heating Products at NXP Semiconductors. 

SKS: What problem is your company trying to solve that current kitchen or food industry technology doesn’t?

Viza: You can put a lot of technical jargon around what we are doing but at the end of the day, we are working to deliver capability that allows for a level of automation in the cooking process while also striving to match or improve the quality of the outcome. The whole process of sourcing, storing, preparing, and cooking can be a labor for many of us, even those who find enjoyment in cooking, when time constrains us. Bringing elements of automation can help reduce the time needed and at the same time help deliver an outcome that is more deterministic.

SKS: How has technology in the kitchen changed over the last decade and where is it headed?

Viza: I think the last 2-3 years has seen more adoption of technology in the kitchen than the 7 years prior to that. We’ve seen incremental changes in appliance electronics like touch based controls and interfaces, and the addition of connectivity to appliances. Now we are seeing the availability of useful services to leverage those connected end points, as well as the emergence of software stacks and protocols for interacting between devices and cloud services. This is affecting the sourcing of goods, the inventory management of our kitchens, and the automation of our inventory and cooking processes.

SKS: Tell us about an important “a-ha” moment in creating your product or growing your business.

Viza: We have had several “a-ha” moments along the way that have given us confidence we are on the right track. This includes validating our performance capability in meeting efficiency and controlling the cooking energy, customer interest in use of our solid state cooking solutions, and the overall increase in companies investing in the smart kitchen appliance space. NXP offers a span of solid state cooking solutions with the components, modules and reference design to enable our customers to implement in end products. Visit for more details.

SKS: What do you see as a potential pitfall or challenge that the smart kitchen industry will face as it continues to grow?

Viza: We will likely see challenges that have faced other markets and applications as the emergence of new technologies and solutions evolve. These include higher initial costs for hardware or solutions that only early adopters may be willing to pay, complexity in products or services that may confuse or limit consumer adoption, and proliferation of competing alternatives or lack of de-facto standards which can limit adoption due to lack of interoperability.

SKS: What’s your go-to gadget or product in the kitchen that you can’t live without?

Viza: My coffee/espresso maker. Can’t start a day without it.

Q&A With Innit's Kevin Brown

                                    Kevin Brown, CEO of Innit

                                    Kevin Brown, CEO of Innit

Today's Q&A is with Kevin Brown, CEO of Innit. Kevin is participating in the panel, "The Kitchen OS: Bridging Islands in the Connected Kitchen". You can read more about Kevin here.

SKS: How is the Innit platform using data to disrupt the purchase, storage & cooking of the food in our kitchens?

Brown: A lot of technologies today are connecting things to things.  You can connect your doorbell to your tea kettle, but it's not clear what problems that really solves.  In contrast, Innit unlocks the information within food, and connects it to kitchen appliances to empower consumers.  By digitizing the information within food itself, and making that information available throughout the cooking ritual, Innit can address challenges across all stages of the food lifecycle.  By enabling your fridge to recognize and track inventory, we can reduce food waste, and provide inspiration for the stressful question of "what's for dinner?"  Your kitchen can recognize your food and provide just-in-time how-to videos, providing confidence to try new dishes, much like GPS empowers driving.  Finally, once a recipe is selected and prep is done, the platform can send a 15-step Michelin star recipe to your WiFi oven with a single click, enabling restaurant-quality results with just a few minutes of preparation.  Once your kitchen can listen to food, everything changes.

SKS: Can you share an “ah-ha” moment for the Innit team as you were building the platform and how it contributed to where you are today?
Brown: We had to invent the first "self-cooking ovens" in 2013-14 because there was no hardware platform that could recognize food, collect detailed sensor data, and provide precise programming of heating elements.  Using these prototype ovens, we were able to achieve amazing results that blew away some of the world's top chefs.  The ah-ha moment for us was when we realized we could port these recipes to run on today's generation of WiFi-enabled ovens, and get nearly the same level of quality.  We needed the advanced devices to generate machine-readable recipes, but we now had a way to deliver them to millions of kitchens in the near future.

SKS: How can the emerging connected kitchen industry avoid some of the challenges of the broader smart home space and its slow adoption?

Brown: A lot of IoT and smart home initiatives start with a technology, and search for a problem.  Connecting devices to the Internet is a good first step, but it doesn't inherently deliver benefits.  Opportunity starts with real-world consumer challenges, and orchestrating multiple devices to serve the consumer's needs.  Innit spent three years in stealth mode developing technologies, but more importantly identifying innovative ways to solve existing consumer challenges with food.If we end up needing to launch six apps to prepare dinner with our various smart gadgets, that will be a fail. We envision a much different workflow, centered around consumers and the food itself, where the different stages are seamlessly orchestrated using the features of each device in the kitchen.  Innit is working hard to build that "Food OS" in the kitchen that can unlock the best functionality within each appliance, while minimizing complexity for the user.

SKS: What’s the most exciting aspect of the convergence of kitchen and technology to you?

Brown: Every other part of our life has become digitized – music, movies, video, taxi cabs, hotels – with major jumps in value and convenience.  Food has lagged behind in innovation, with major impacts to stress, economics, sustainability, and wellness.  The Innit team is passionate about empowering people through food, and helping them eat and live better. We are excited to deliver technologies that can help millions of families get the most out of their food.
SKS: What’s your go to gadget or product in the kitchen that you can’t live without?

Brown: When cooking manually on the stovetop,my go-to device is my Lodge cast iron pan ($19.99).  It delivers an incredible amount of searing power to lock in moisture and generate flavor, and it's very consistent on low heat over longer periods.  There's no substitute for protons (26) and neutrons (30).

The Smart Kitchen Summit is next week! If you want to hear Kevin Brown and other leaders talk about the future of the kitchen, cooking and foodtech, get your ticket today!