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White Castle Is Testing Out a Robot Line Cook Named Flippy

Plus, the 20th anniversary of Anthony Bourdain’s ”Kitchen Confidential, and other news to start the day

Hand holding White Castle slider, on a table with other White Castle food.
White Castle announced plans to pilot a robotic chef named Flippy in the fall.
Photo: rblfmr/Shutterstock

White Castle will be the first fast-food chain to install a robotic cook

Human grill cooks had a good run, but the age of the robot burger flipper may be on the horizon. White Castle announced plans to test a robotic chef named Flippy in the kitchen of at least one restaurant this September, Business Insider reports. The robot, made by Miso Robotics, has already been frying food and cooking burgers in venues including Dodger Stadium. White Castle will be the first fast-food chain to pilot a robot cook in the kitchen.

Flippy, which can learn and improve its performance through AI, will start out on the fry station before potentially expanding its purview to the grill. White Castle vice president Jamie Richardson tells Business Insider that the robot won’t replace human jobs, but will allow flesh-and-blood workers to focus on other tasks like ensuring order accuracy or fulfilling delivery orders. This move toward automation had already been planned before the pandemic, but the COVID-era demand for lower-contact cooking, in addition to a boom in delivery, has accelerated the shift.

Via the Robot Report, here’s a video demonstration of Flippy making White Castle fries:

And a previous video from TechCrunch showing Flippy flipping burgers:

And in other news…

  • Speaking of robots, Tyson Foods is speeding up the shift to automated butchers in meatpacking plants, fueled in part by coronavirus outbreaks among workers. [WSJ]
  • There is a massive NUT GLUT in the U.S., with so much surplus that nut tree branches are breaking from heavy crops. [Bloomberg]
  • Burger King is debuting a new Whopper with beef patties made from cows whose diets produce 33 percent less methane emissions. [Business Insider]
  • Chipotle is testing cauliflower rice as a new healthier menu option. The rice is available in select Denver and Wisconsin restaurants for a limited time. [CNN]
  • Johnnie Walker will be sold in paper bottles in early 2021, with PepsiCo and Unilever to follow, in an effort to cut down on plastic use and waste. [Food Dive]
  • Oat milk is apparently big money — Oatly has landed a $200 million investment from a group led by Blackstone. [Bloomberg]
  • Chef Tom Kerridge, the owner of multiple Michelin-starred pubs, put no-show guests on blast in an Instagram post: “All of you ‘no shows’ in all restaurants up and down the country are adding to the issues already being faced … You are the worst kind of guest, and that is ‘selfish.’” [Yahoo News]
  • Reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential after 20 years. [The Ringer]

All AM Intel Coverage [E]

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