Chefs inside Red Lobster kitchens across the country may one day be able to easily access the restaurant chain’s latest recipes with a simple voice or touchscreen command thanks to work started by a team of Florida Polytechnic University senior capstone design students.
“We’re building prototypes for a digital recipe card system so that Red Lobster can understand how to manage their recipes on the back end virtually,” said computer science major Connor Coddington ’21, from Winter Park, Florida. “Now all the recipes are on paper and the vision is to one day allow the prep cooks and line cooks to view recipes on Alexa and video screens in the kitchens.”
Coddington and computer science students Abishek Sundarraj ’21 and Yesabel Ruiz ’21 are building two web app prototypes and an Alexa program to make it easier and more efficient for the Orlando, Florida, -based restaurant company to provide effortless access to its catalog of recipes. Red Lobster officials said this research and development effort will help the company understand the true capabilities of the technologies used and gain insights in the work effort required to build a scalable solution.
The first of the three components the team has developed is an administrative app and would allow authorized employees to add recipes, modify them, and assign them to restaurants. The second web app would be used by line cooks to easily access the recipes.
“When you order a dish, the line cooks look at the recipe and prepare the order, do all the finishing touches for it, and send it to you to eat,” said Sundarraj, from Boca Raton, Florida. “We are prototyping a web app that will basically be showing all the recipes their restaurant uses in a table format and they can select the recipe and the whole recipe card will pop up.”
The line cook can then view all ingredients and equipment necessary, as well as detailed images and plating instructions.
The last component of the project is an Alexa application for use on the Amazon Echo Show device, which features an HD smart display.
“This one is for the prep cooks, who are the people that make everything that needs to be prepared beforehand, like sauces, rice, and marinades,” Sundarraj said. “Since their job is messier, we want to give them a hands-free experience so instead of tapping on a screen they can just ask the device.”
Anthony Goodman, IT Innovation and Application Architect for Red Lobster, is guiding the students through the project. He said the team’s work can someday form the basis for a live system that dramatically overhauls current processes.
“Our current process is print-based, which comes with a number of challenges, particularly with our size and scale,” Goodman said. “There’s a lot of potential in a digital platform, including increased accuracy and overall efficiency. For example, with a digital platform, instead of an employee taking off his or her gloves and walking over to the book to find a recipe, they could potentially say, ‘Alexa, show me the recipe for Admiral’s Feast,’ and it would appear right there.”
The team of seniors agreed that the possibility that Red Lobster may continue to refine their digital recipe solutions and deploy them to all locations in the future is exciting.
“It’s good to know what we helped program might actually be used in their day-to-day lives,” Coddington said. “Being able to speak and have it display the recipe will be cool to see, and hopefully it will speed things up for them.”
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