We automate so many things in our daily lives, so why not cooking? That’s exactly what Sereneti aims to do. The robotics startup is developing Cooki, a prototype automatic cooking machine that the company describes as a Keurig for food.
A user can simply select the recipe they want through the paired Foodi app, and Cooki does the rest. The machine adds ingredients into a pan when appropriate and stirs, flips, and otherwise manipulates the food with a robotic arm. The pan sits on an induction cooktop, which heats the food to whatever temperature the recipe calls for and cooks it for exactly the right amount of time.
At CES 2015, we got to see Cooki in action. Timothy Chen, the president and CEO of Sereneti, used his app to order the unit to make a serving of noodles. Completely on its own, Cooki went through the motions: boiling water, adding noodles, stirring, adding soup base, stirring some more, adding a mix of fresh vegetables, then stirring even more.
The demo used a fairly quick and simple recipe, but Chen built Cooki to be able to follow any set of cooking directions it receives from the paired Foodi app—any recipe, in other words. You just need to make sure Cooki’s trays are stocked with the right ingredients.
There are many advantages to owning an automatic cooking robot. If you want to eat but don’t want to cook, your usual options are to eat out at a restaurant, get fast food, or nuke a frozen dinner in the microwave—each with their own obvious disadvantages in terms of price, healthiness, convenience, or taste. Cooki can deliver home-cooked meals with virtually zero effort on your part. Additionally, since Cooki is following each recipe exactly, you get consistent results every time.
It’s important to note that Cooki doesn’t make home cooking any faster, and you still need to keep it stocked and clean it like any other small kitchen appliance. Chen was quick to point out that the Cooki on the show floor was a prototype for proof of concept. The mass-produced version will be smaller and have fewer exposed wires—and look significantly less like an industrial robotic arm.
Sereneti still has a lot of ground to cover before Cooki will be available to the public. The initial version of the product will likely be rather basic and just hit all the key points of automated cooking, but Chen has big plans for future expansions—refrigerated trays, an ingredient ordering system built into Foodi, and a way for budding chefs to share their recipes and even monetize them, to name a few. He expects the retail price to be around $600.