When the late Steve Jobs revealed a tablet called the iPad in 2010, I do not believe he intended for you tech obsessed fools to one day use it as a food plate.
And yet, in 2018, nearly ten years into the assumed-to-be-more-advanced future, here I am writing an article on why serving food directly on top of iPads is a complete an utter nightmare.
iPads are not plates. Do you understand?
Plates are defined as flat, often circular dishes, from which food is eaten or served. And iPads are essentially just big iPhones without calling capabilities. It should be abundantly clear that these two things are vastly different from one another and are meant to serve two very unrelated purposes. But there are apparently people out there who either don’t comprehend this fact, or worse — don’t care!
You’re probably wondering to yourselves, “Why is this girl even thinking about food sitting on top of an iPad. That’s not a thing!” Well, guess what!? It most certainly is a thing, and I would to thank Mindy Kaling for bringing it to my attention in her NBC comedy, Champions.
Sadly, Champions was cancelled after a single season, but in episode three, the main character, Michael Patel — played by J.J. Totah — has dinner at a fancy and expensive place called L’Trine Restaurant.
The restaurant is owned by his dreamy (but evil) uncle, played by Hasan Minhaj, who invites Michael and his other two dreamy uncles (Anders Holm and Andy Favreau) to dine with him. After being impressed with a VIP room that can only be unlocked with an Oscar statue, a gorgeous staircase, and sparkly chandeliers, Michael spots the waiters carrying food… on iPads.
“This place is even fancier than I thought!” Michael exclaimed in disbelief. “The plates are iPads!”
Michael was in awe and clearly felt the sight before him was a truly marvelous innovation. Meanwhile I, a mortified and confused viewer, was thinking, “HOLY SHIT. PLEASE. GOD. NO.”
I get it, Mindy. This is hilarious commentary on how tech-crazed and extra we all are and I love iPad plates in Champions, but the thought of actually having my food one day presented to me on an iPad — because I genuinely believe we’re all insane enough for that to become the norm — makes me physically ill.
I mean, hi! Why do we need any innovations in the PLATE department in the first place? Good old fashioned plates, platters, and bowls seems to be doing just fine supporting edible goods. On the other hand — can you imagine touching a FORK AND KNIFE to an iPad screen?! *CRINGE*
Quite frankly, all I want when I go to a restaurant is delicious food. As long as the plate is clean and carrying my food IDGAF that it’s aesthetically boring as hell. I appreciate the effort of a nice presentation, sure, but I’m not looking to be wowed to the point where I want my burger supported by a $300+ glowing piece of machinery.
If I was hungry and wanted to simultaneously stare at an iPad I’d snag something from the mall food court and munch on it in the Apple store. Y’all can keep whatever this is right here. 👇
The tiny but terrifying trend
Though I’ve never actually seen food served on an iPad IRL, I was so unexpectedly shook by this restaurant scene in Champions that I did a little research. And wouldn’t you know it? Turns out restaurants turning tablets into plates is most certainly happening off screen, and has been for years. 🙂
Spanish chef Elena Arzak, who owns Arzak —an award-winning restaurant in San Sebastián, Spain, with three Michelin stars — has been trying to make digital plates work since 2013. Seems the place is pretty popular so could it be not everyone is as frightened by the food/tech merger as me???
Thankfully, the restaurant doesn’t place the food directly on the tablet’s screen, which, I must admit, makes me slightly more at ease. But this is still a painfully extra way of consuming food and can’t imagine the audacity it takes to eat off of an iPad when poverty still very much exists in the world.
Quince — an Italian restaurant in San Francisco, which also has three Michelin stars — began making use of iPads with its “A Dog in Search of Gold” truffle dish a few years after Arzak. The restaurant’s truffle starter course is presented on an iPad in a walnut box and plays videos of dogs searching for the truffles.
In 2016, the restaurant’s chef, Michael Tusk, explained the unconventional presentation in a Facebook post, saying it combines “a little bit of gastronomy, technology, education and whimsy.”
Tusk went on to share that a plexiglass frame also covers the iPad, and shared that in this case, the video presented is meant to tell a story about the harvesting of the food. I suppose that at least makes the experience more meaningful than simply eating off of technology. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
But in 2010, TechCrunch profiled a daring and far-too-dedicated Apple fan who ate sushi directly off his iPad and even HIS IPHONE screens. Shiinaneko used images of plates to turn his tech into a digital place setting, and let me tell you it made me want to scream.
Everything I hate about iPad plates
Aside from the fact that eating off of iPads is a disgustingly pretentious and absolutely unnecessary thing to do, it’s also super gross and inconvenient.
If you’re like Shiinaneko and opt for direct screen-to-food contact, you run the risk of consuming harmful iPad germs and straight-up ruining your device. I’m sure the Apple screen doesn’t have an especially great taste, and if you don’t wind up destroying the device with liquid from the food, there’s a good chance the iPad will at least smell like your dinner for a while. Not ideal.
It’s not practical kitchenware at all — probably because no one ever intended it to be.
And if you do use a protective plexiglass plate in between, there’s still the issue that the iPad is completely flat and awkward. Aside from the fact that it’s NOT A PLATE, even if you try to use it as one, it won’t work well. What happens if you need to scoop something? And are sauces and dressings just supposed to run off the edges? It’s not practical kitchenware at all — probably because no one ever intended it to be.
Finally, do we not have enough tech in our lives already? If we can’t take a break from technology during meals — when we physically choose to leave the comfort of our own homes and distance ourselves from our personal devices — then when can we?
If given the choice between dining at one of those uptight, anti-tech places that forbids you from looking at your phone while eating and having my meal presented to me on a platter that that can be charged, please lock my phone in a box for as long as you see fit.
We already have a plethora of advanced kitchen gadgets, robots that make pizza, digital menus and ordering services, and waiter-less, cashier-less restaurants for goodness sake. Let’s just chill for a sec and try enjoying our food the old fashioned way — unplugged.
iPad plates are a step too far in the wrong direction, and I am begging you, please, do not let this be our future.
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