Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Evolution: The Restaurant

Better meals through "natural" selection!
  (+11, -1)(+11, -1)
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You start of with a simple food of some sort - a basic bread, some grilled meat, a vegtable puree. As you serve that item to patrons you also give them a Scantron sheet that lets them rate the item and make suggestions for improvements in a relatively objective manner. These Scantron sheets are then fed into a reader at the end of the night and a computer analyzes the data in order to determine what the top requested improvements, changes, and complaints are. The next day, you prepare the new and improved food for the restaurant patrons to taste and rate again. This can go on as long as you want it to.

Theoretically, after a while, as a result of the customer's constant input and the revision of the recipes, you should end up with some interesting and amazingly delicious recipes. What started off as a simple loaf of bread has over time evolved into three different food items - a new variation of the hamburger, a dessert cake, and a chicken-pot pie like dish, for example.

You could eventually add more items for customers to "evolve" and after a while you would have a menu of nothing but evolved recipes. Perhaps after a few dishes evolve to a certain point, you could pit them against each other to see which one continues and which one is scrapped.

prototrance, Jun 25 2006

Perceptron http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perceptron
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perceptron [monojohnny, Jun 26 2006]

How this idea might work in practice http://xkcd.com/720/
[Wrongfellow, Jul 04 2013]


       "I'll have the finch." +   

       A needless variation that leaves the computers out of it: Have the chef make *two* slightly different versions of the dish, serve both to the customer, and see which one gets completely eaten. Prepare that variant the next time, with another version that is slighty different. If both dishes get eaten, speciation may occur.
baconbrain, Jun 25 2006

       This is already happening. Chefs already vary menus, and customers already give feedback. Just replace the scantron sheet with other customer reactions on a scale from "demands dish that's not on the menu" to "returns with health inspector in tow".
jutta, Jun 26 2006

       As a person who has worked in the food service industry, I can unequivocally state that chefs would not embrace this idea. That's why they're chefs and we're not. You might say that THEY have evolved, or at least their palates have. If this is a restaurant with just fry cooks and broilermen, then the problem is that they're generally serving pre-made frozen foods (oops-did I just OUT the entire industry? Oh well) and don't have that kind of wriggle room.
Rm Brz, Jun 26 2006

       From a purely logical point of view, this works if you have the same customers patronising the restaurant on a daily basis. Which is unlikely. Moving on, it's a little unreasonable to expect one person's improvements to be welcomed by another.   

       Having said that - I'm not pissing on this idea, honestly - I rather like the democratic idea behind it. Assuming, as Rm Brz rightly points out, that the chefs would have the patience and grace to do it in the first place. But, to add a little something to Rm Brz's comment, I'd point him in the direction of the famous El Bulli restaurant in Spain. Recognised within Europe (I can't speak for the US) as consistently the most innovative, exciting and unusual restaurant there is, it is only open for 3 motnhs of the year. The staff are employed for the remaining 9 months in a lab in Barcelona concocting new recipes and developing ideas, using both their own knowledge and the feedback from their clientele.
neuro, Jun 26 2006

       I would think that this process is undertaken by most major food chains. Macdonalds for example will test market things and gauge sales response and customer commentary. Then after several rounds of positive marketing the item may recieve wider sales. on the other hand items that get mixed reviews may be tweaked and tried again. bombs will disappear to the back room never to be seen again.   

       I think an issue is that this is verymuch a moving target so evolution will be challenged to achieve its goals before the trends change.   

       If you look at brands like coke pepsi and Dr. Pepper, you will find a product that has been tweaked through time, but that is quite different than its progenitors. Remeber that in general evolution is either slow and steady or starts quick then returns to slow and steady. it does not change a lot over long periods of time.
jhomrighaus, Jun 26 2006

       [Rm Brz] This idea would seem to need an automated system for food production in the kitchen...
James Newton, Jun 26 2006

       This probably occurs on a "species" level already. A successful restaurant will not close, whereas an unpopular one will very quickly.   

       The next generation of restaurentrepreneurs will want to copy the successful restaurant, with minor modifications. Look how successful McD's and all its' clones are.
GutPunchLullabies, Jun 26 2006

       On the other hand, a restaurant that plays on the idea of natural selection versus creationism would definitely fly with the chefs I know. They all think they're God already. "No, you can't have it that way, because- well- I said so and -um- it's my day to rest. But try again tomorrow. Maybe I'll be in a better mood and won't dash you to hell for asking."
Rm Brz, Jun 26 2006

       Great idea. Although the point made above about not everyone agreeing will hamper it probably - or cause the system to oscilate between preferences; for instance "too salty" and "not enough salt" would be down to personal preference.   

       It would be a (bit) like the perceptron's inability to learn how to deal with XOR gates. (see link).   

monojohnny, Jun 26 2006

       Natural Selection vs. Evolution? I love that!
prototrance, Jun 27 2006

       DOE (design of experiments) will yield better results
ravi kris334, Jul 04 2013

       The main problem is that the vast majority of people won't be able to tell what suggestions to make. I am including myself in this, despite the fact that I am a decent cook.   

       I've eaten many dishes that I've loved, and some that I've hated. On the hated side, I can usually point to why (texture, or cooked bell peppers), but on the loved side, I definitely couldn't pick out the specific spice or mixture that made it so perfect. I also don't have an extensive knowledge of how specific ingredients interact, so it's unlikely I'd be able to suggest a particular ingredient that would improve the dish.
MechE, Jul 04 2013

       Usually it works the other way around. It starts off with a certain recipe, and the customers get used to the menu. Slowly the customer's taste evolves into a decaying simpleton 20 article menu, with standard spices, and even a standard look and size.   

       That is what is called: the descent of man.   

       // and what about mutations?
pashute, Jul 04 2013


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