Paw Paws And Robots: Dining In Kansas City In The Year 2046

Nov 7, 2016

Ask food critic Charles Ferruzza what restaurants in Kansas City might look like in 30 years, and he envisions places where “farm-to-table” has gone to the extreme.

“Can you see the day people will come in with their very own sorghum from their backyard and ask you to cook it?” Ferruzza asked chef Ted Habiger on a recent episode of Central Standard

Paw paws are among the locally-grown ingredients that restaurant experts predict will be popular in upcoming years on local menus.
Credit Gina Kaufmann / KCUR 89.3

Habiger, who owns the restaurant Room 39, said we’re just at the beginning of a local ingredient trend. Sorghum, paw paws, new varieties of nettles – they’re all working their way into Kansas City restaurant menus.

Leading chefs will soon be diving back into old cookbooks from the 1920s and 30s for inspiration, Habiger predicted.

Ferruzza said restaurants are trending toward more children’s menus and less formality (good-bye to the white tablecloths of the American Restaurant.) 

And if the Kansas City-based chain Applebee’s is any harbinger, restaurants of the future will have fewer servers and more screens

Eater recently published its own vision of restaurants in the year 2040, a time when the foodie site predicts rising minimum wage regulations will lead to automation of both the wait staff and food preparation, ordered directly on your touch-screen table and retrieved at an “automat-style” cubby (already a thing in San Francisco.)

Sylvia Maria Gross is a reporter and editor at KCUR, and senior producer of the show Central Standard. You can reach her at sylvia@kcur.org and @pubradiosly.