New Boston Restaurant Has Robots As Chefs

I Had A Meal Made By Robots, And I Have To Say, It Was Pretty Darn Good

No, seriously, my meal was freaking delicious.

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The future lies in robots. They've been crucially useful in advancing research, been apart of new scientific discoveries, and have inspired countless movies endearing to adults and children alike. It's no secret we've let them into our lives, building them to accomplish tasks as simple as vacuuming our floors. Some of them even dispense our toothpaste for us.

Now, they've taken a step further into our personal lives to help us out with something that's still considered a very human activity: cooking. Just past Boston's Downtown Crossing is a small but unassuming restaurant called Spyce, which recently opened in May. Inside, you can order one of seven bowls, each of them inspired by different regions of the world and can be easily updated to be vegetarian, pescetarian, gluten-free and vegan.

What's the twist, you ask? Well. Your food's prepared by robots.

During my visit to the restaurant, I was surprised by how minimalist the entire setup seemed. For one, the atmosphere was much quieter than I'd expected -- normally in a kitchen, there's shouting, sizzling pans, and utensils clanging on the regular. There was none of that here, only food gently cooking itself to perfection in a rotating cylinder.

When you're ordering your food, you're asked to put in your name so that you're able to identify which pot your meal is being cooked in, and so you can follow the course of your bowl being created. Behind each pot, a little cup will throw in rice, chicken if you ordered it, and any specific cookable foods that can go into the pot. The little red box (shown on the far right of the picture) will zoom back and forth and eventually squirt a generous helping of sauce into the pot.

After, it tilts forward and rotates for a couple of minutes while the rice and chicken cook. It's almost kind of mesmerizing to watch as it goes around and around. There are exactly two workers at the bar, and their job is to do two things: one, make sure that there's a bowl for the robot to dump its food in, and two, to add any extra toppings that are part of the bowl.

Once the food is deemed finished by the robot, the cylinder will tip forward, empty its contents into the little paper bowl, and get whisked to an extras station where more components get added. Add a little sticker with your name and the bowl you ordered, and you're good to go. Overall, the whole process takes about ten minutes -- it's fast food, in a way, but it's not quite as fast as, say, McDonald's. Think a little longer than Five Guys, sort of.

During my visit, I had the Indian bowl, which Spyce's website describes as containing "roasted chicken, potatoes and peas in a tikka masala sauce, brown rice, cilantro, puffed rice, tamarind chutney, and yogurt". The chef behind the bowl, Sam Benson, explains his thought process:

"I have always had a short attention span, so I wanted to create a lively Indian bowl that still remained true to many of the country's cultural traditions," he says. "The flavors in this bowl are intense and purposeful. By making peas a central element of this dish, their texture is able to pop underneath the tamarind and date chutney. The final touch, the puffed rice, adds an unexpected crispiness to make this bowl inviting and intriguing."

(Among the recommended add-ons were boiled eggs, pomegranate seeds, and the restaurant's avocado lime crema. I went with none of those and added cucumber salad instead.)

The thing about having your bowl made by a robot is that there is a chef that has perfectly determined the ratio of spice to ingredient to sauce needed to achieve maximum taste; a human might err on those perfect proportions from time to time but a robot is able to accurately measure each quantity over and over.

So, naturally, my bowl was freaking delicious. Everything tasted unbelievably fresh, and each component of the dish stood out equally. Benson was right about the sudden crunchiness from the puffy rice; it made the whole thing different from any other time I'd gone to eat Indian food. I'm even proud to report the chicken wasn't even dry -- dry chicken is one of my pet peeves.

I washed down (or tried to, anyway) the bowl with a tart limeade, which was more of a chore than it seems -- if you like sour things, go for it, but if you don't, stick to the iced tea instead. The ordering kiosk offered a choice for dessert, but it doesn't quite seem like they're there yet, so I ended up dumping some sugar into my drink and hoping for the best (no such luck).

Amazingly enough, the bowl only cost $7.50. Each of the bowls costs the same -- and they all pack a pretty heavy punch in terms of the amount of food you get. So if you're looking for a novelty but cheap eat, go to Spyce and watch your food get cooked by a robot. At the very least, you won't be bored waiting for your food.

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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I Wasn't Always Lactose Intolerant, But Now That I Am, I Can Confirm — It Sucks

I see all of my friends eating ice cream and drinking bubble until their heart's content, but I can't say the same thing about myself.

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The thing is that I wasn't always lactose intolerant. In fact, before college, I was able to eat as much ice cream and mac and cheese as I wanted, and I was able to drink a glass of milk and have milk with cereal. But ever since coming to college, for some reason, my body decided that it was time to start rejecting dairy, and it picked the wrong time to do so.

Last semester, I went to get breakfast, and I decided to get a bowl of Fruit Loops, and I poured some milk into it. While I was eating, there was no problem, and I went about everything as I normally would, but it was when I went back to my dorm that my stomach started feeling...not so right. My stomach was hurting and I felt bloated. I was hoping that it was only because the cereal may have been old or the utensils that I was using may not have been cleaned well enough, so I stayed optimistic (for too long, in all honesty).

The following weeks, I had cereal a few more times, and I also ate some ice cream and mac and cheese, and every time, the same thing happened, and I had to convince myself that deep down, I knew what this meant. I sort of panicked because it was all so sudden. I was perfectly able to tolerate dairy right before college started, but now, I can't even handle a cup of ice cream.

I have to constantly monitor how much dairy I consume because if I consume more than my maximum amount, it's not going to end up well. Sometimes, I see my friends' iced milk tea whenever we're on the train, and I envy them because I try to avoid anything with dairy when I'm taking any sort of transportation. I think the worst part is that every time I pass by the Chatime truck, I have to fight the temptation of getting a cup of boba, especially during this time of year on the warmer days. I always walk by the crowd huddled around the cart, wishing I was them. It sounds kind of sad because it is.

Now, I may be lactose intolerant, but that doesn't mean that I don't consume dairy at all. There are days when I get out of chemistry lab, needing to treat myself to something for standing and stressing out for three hours straight, so I order myself a large Jasmine green milk tea, completely ignoring the consequences of my actions. There are even nights after dinner where I'll get two or three cups of ice cream, and I'm not going to lie, I regret it afterward half of the time.

My body may not thank me, but quite frankly, I can't go forever without eating dairy because...do I even have to say it?

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