At the restaurant Spyce, dishes are whipped up by a robotic chef built by four recent MIT grads, with input from Daniel Boulud
by Jay Cheshes
Last month, four recent M.I.T. graduates, engineers with a shared passion for robotics, gathered in a lab at a startup incubator near Boston, to show off their pet project. They stood around a hulking console that looked like an old mainframe computer but was actually a self-cleaning robotic kitchen, designed to prepare an entire meal in less than three minutes. They call their contraption the Spyce Kitchen, which spawned a nickname, the Spyce Boys, and, as they introduced themselves, they might have been members of a boy band taking the stage.
“I’m the lead electrical engineer, making sure the motors and sensors are working,” Brady Knight, a bookish twenty-three-year-old from the Bay Area, wearing a black-and-white gingham shirt, said.
“I’m the C.O.O.,” Kale Rogers, twenty-four and known to the others as Ginger Spyce, because of his shock of red hair, said. “I do a lot of stuff—designing the branding experience, the whole customer experience, managing the restaurant.”
“I’m the C.E.O.,” Michael Farid, twenty-six, chimed in. He is a native of Egypt, with a buzz cut and the only master’s degree in the group. “I sort of, like, find a direction in how to identify ways to further culinary expectations.”
“Luke, he’s the lead mechanical engineer,” Farid went on, pointing at Luke Schlueter, a soft-spoken twenty-three-year-old champion swimmer from St. Louis. “He builds stuff. We all designed certain parts of it, but he put the entire thing together.”
Schlueter showed how the inner workings of the steel-cased robot kitchen are visible through its glass façade. Seven cameras, named for the Seven Dwarfs, keep watch over its functioning. “You’ve got Happy, Grumpy, and Sneezy over there,” he said. “And they’re monitoring full run-through tests.”