Last week, I was lucky enough to have a glimpse of the future when I was transported to the year 2044.
Thanks to a fascinating event hosted by Brita, I discovered how it's predicted the hospitality industry will look in 25 years time.
Whether that's robots serving my food or a meal individually designed to meet my needs, it was certainly wildly different from the world we live in today.
On arrival I was asked to fill in a questionnaire which would then shape the dressing that was served with my starter of Wildes cheese & thyme fritters, implanting my food with essential nutrients. The Bermondsey Street Bees' honey glaze was tinged with something different for each individual.
It could be that they felt overwhelmed with pressure from the working week, or that they had trouble remembering things and needed their memory jogging.
For me though, it was all about getting a good night's sleep and therefore my dressing featured lavender and chamomile which was designed to "enhance the quality of my slumber".
The main course was roasted duck with potato, tarragon, broccoli & Oloroso sherry which was served using a machine of the future which reduces food waste, elevates presentation and ensures that food is served at the perfect temperature.
The dessert was intriguing...
Not only were we encouraged to build our own dessert with an assortment of toppings, but we were served by staff wearing masks; a taste of what is to come as predictions tell us that in the future more and more venues will serve their food using robots.
The Tropical Eton Mess featured pink peppercorn meringues, pineapple, passion fruit posset, coconut, guava coulis, Thai basil cream & dark chocolate straws. Our mission was to put it all together in our own way, although it would be difficult to do that without it looking appealing.
All the food was delicious and it was fascinating to see what Brita's research indicates will happen in 2044.
In a bid to become more sustainable, the food served was all within a 10 mile radius.
So, what did I learn?
- 81 per cent of hospitality professionals believe that achieving zero waste will be the top sustainability initiative in 2044. This is closely followed by kitchen technology that delivers smart cleaning and less water waste (72 per cent) and product innovation that sees a total ban on single-use plastics (53 per cent).
- Food and drink will be served 24/7 and the majority of hospitality professionals either agree (52 per cent) or strongly agree (29 per cent) that technology will develop to help businesses deliver this continual service.
And what did I make of this new world we are predicted to encounter?
On the environmental side of things, it's frightening to see the impact that global warming is having on our planet, so the fact that there is such a big focus on food waste and product innovation to rule out single use plastic is encouraging.
It's likely there will be more machines to help us deliver the best service and it may mean that we don't need as many members of staff as we do nowadays.
But, quite frankly, the use of Artificial Intelligence doesn't sit well with me. Not only do I want to ensure that we encourage a thriving hospitality industry and keep school leavers interested in joining it, I am also not sure I want to go and sit down for a meal without a friendly face serving me.
Our pubs are a lifeline for our communities and if we rely too much on technology, don't we miss out on that social interaction? Don't we miss out on getting the top recommendations on the best meals on the menu or the best beer on tap?
I welcome change as a lot of us do, but I am not sure I am ready for a robot to serve my dinner just yet. But who knows, in 25 years I might just change my mind!