How CloudChef Uses AI To Recreate Michelin-Rated Dishes For Delivery

CloudChef is a fine dining food delivery start-up with a high-tech twist. The menu is laden with signature dishes from Michelin award-winning chefs, but the food is prepared by teams of workers without kitchen experience, all guided by AI instruction. No brigade of trained cooks calling "Yes, chef" in the CloudChef kitchen — the instructions are on monitors at each workstation. The AI has been trained by pro chefs who have given it detailed prep and cooking instructions, and, with the help of sensors that record the activity, the amateur cooks perform the discrete tasks the AI feeds them. CloudChef promises to flawlessly recreate each chef's recipe in their technology-embedded kitchens through the use of computer screens and AI devices. 

CloudChef co-founders Nikhil Abraham, Atish Aloor, and Mohit Shah hope to provide a new way to reduce labor costs and also add a passive income stream from licensing recipes with their AI kitchen technology. With AI guiding production, cooks could potentially be replaced by lower-wage workers without diminishing the food quality. Recipes from in-demand chefs and restaurants could also be replicated around the world, bringing new flavors and variety to faraway places without requiring the chef to travel and train. But for now, they're providing delivery of their award-winning chef recipes from a tech-enabled kitchen in Palo Alto, California.

Delivering on AI (literally)

With the promise of Michelin-star guidance behind a delivered dinner, we were eager to place an order from CloudChef, which was delivered by DoorDash. The Vellore Chicken Curry by Chef Sri Gopinathan consisted of chicken breasts covered in a mildly spiced brown sauce. (Gopinathan's Michelin-recommended restaurant, Ettan, is not currently serving this entrée, so, unfortunately, it wasn't possible to compare the AI version we sampled with the chef's own work.) Curry Leaf Lemon Rice (no chef attributed) was the most exceptional of our choices, with fluffy basmati, flavorful curry leaf, and peppers. We also tried avocado chat, mushroom stuffed kofta, and Kerala porotta. The meal with delivery was $78 — about the local average for a similar spread.

Overall, this was not an outstanding Indian take-out dinner compared to other local choices and did not seem up to Michelin dining expectations due to the lack of garnishes and plain presentation. But if untrained hands made this meal, it was a huge win for CloudChef's technology. Juicy chicken breast and perfect rice take skill, and this meal showed some finesse in terms of flavor and preparation. AI might not understand how to deliver on Michelin experience (yet), but it seems to be a competent cook. Still, we'll be watching to see if AI will ultimately save fine dining and make any real impact on labor.