The first restaurants in 18th-century Paris, were most likely a basic affair. No Instagrammable wall murals, no mixology or molecular cooking. The rise of these now commonplace restaurant features is an example of how, as the world changes so do restaurants. As populations grow, the world shifts, and along with it, the needs of communities. In turn, restaurants adjust to fit these needs and desires. In the current state, urban regions are growing worldwide at a brisk rate, and restaurants need ensure not only that resources are not dwindling, but that the community and restaurant itself can be sustained. In order to do so, the restaurant’s standard model would benefit from some timely innovation. The restaurants of today must evolve to become the restaurants of tomorrow.
For many, that means embracing highly automated premises with robots and AI. Or, meeting the impending shift in human communication from 2D to 3D head-on while championing revolutionary VR and AR solutions. Or, it can mean supporting the advent of virtual kitchens, which afford operators a platform to test and sell food without a major capital outlay. For André Larivière, it entails accelerating the adoption of low-carbon, zero-waste products and practices.
Larivière is a leading sustainable foodservice consultant, who has made it his mission to advance both the amount and pace of eco-conscious change in the restaurant industry. Having left the realm of radio broadcasting to train at New York City’s French Culinary Institute and then spend a year at a Michelin-starred destination on the French Riviera. In 2011, he was instrumental to the success of one such “restaurant of the future” concept; he helped transform O’Doul’s in Vancouver into something the city had never seen before – the award-winning Forage, a progressive farm-to-table eatery centered around sustainable menus and low-impact design, fitted top to bottom with energy-saving appliances and fixtures.
We spoke with André Larivière on how he sees the restaurant of the future progressing and what he predicts will be the cornerstone focuses and ideas for tomorrow’s culinary establishments.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY & SUSTAINABLE ELECTRICITY
“While some cooking with flame and smoke ought to be preserved and sustained for authenticity and flavour, like in Southern barbecue or wood-oven pizza, the future of cooking with gas ought to be a short one.
Environmental impact aside, the most compelling reason is efficiency. Electric and induction appliances are proven to be the most efficient in transferring energy to food. In other words, more of the energy you buy is actually working for your operation, not being wasted in your kitchen and out the hood.
Take the commercial induction cooktops from Garland Canada. They transfer more than 95 per cent energy in cooking, braising or boiling, compared to an average of 30 per cent for an open burner gas range. In general, as all aspects of modern life move away from fossil fuels, either by choice or regulation, the future is sure to be more electric. A restaurant or group of restaurants on a city block may soon be able to power their electric appliances from a nearby renewable source, be it solar or wind.”
VERSATILE & ADAPTABLE RESTAURANTS
“Global experts agree that if there’s one predictable constant for the near future, it’ll be the rapid pace of change. In many ways, it’s already here. The days of planning for a decade of predictable results are gone. Life cycles for social trends, including several around dining, are getting shorter by the day.
The successful restaurant of the future will need to anticipate and adapt to these changes. Instead of designing and building kitchens and facilities around a single menu or service concept, operators need to equip themselves with gear that’s versatile, adaptable and easier to move around; for instance, the multi-function, high-speed ovens from Merrychef and Alto-Shaam, along with their ‘big brother’ combi-ovens. Having multi-tasking equipment will allow operations to reconfigure themselves as needed, even daily or weekly, to respond to trends and test new product or service ideas.”
SIZE & SMARTS
“The essential companions to versatility and adaptability will be size and smarts. With metropolitan regions being home to 75 per cent of the world’s population by 2050, no one expects the cost of urban real estate to fall in our increasingly densified communities.
As such, restaurant operators will want as much business as they can get in as little space as they can comfortably manage. Think more compact and versatile equipment, which applies to most everything in the restaurant of the future. The other desirable feature will be smart control, which can span everything from automation of repetitive work to intuitive sensors and controls, allowing equipment to communicate in response to changes in production pace and volume. This helps lower operating costs and frees up staff to focus on high-value operations.”
LOCALLY SOURCED INGREDIENTS
“Local flavour is not only a tasty, sustainable trend that reduces ‘food miles’ and the impact of transportation, but one expected to increase in value and importance to communities of the future as they aim to be more self-sufficient and healthier.
Restaurants of the future can readily support both these factors by supporting more urban agriculture, including the ultimate in local: an Urban Cultivator. The indoor gardening system provides the nutritional quality and value of greens and other key elements of plant-based diets. Also, by investing in reliable, smart and energy-efficient refrigeration units from True and Delfield. These can store and preserve the top value of the aforementioned foods, while minimizing spoilage and waste.”
About the author
André Larivière curated the RC Show 2019 Restaurant of the Future- an immersive, fully-operational kitchen space, outfitted with sustainable and high-efficiency hardware.
With help from André Larivière, we’ve put together this guide on sustainability with information, advice, and insight on how to develop and run a more sustainable business.