Andean Dream's Organic Quinoa Pasta Solves the Gluten-Free Texture Issue

Andean Dream's Organic Quinoa Pasta Solves the Gluten-Free Texture Issue
  • Andean Dream's Organic Quinoa Pasta Solves the Gluten-Free Texture Issue.

  • Andean Dream Supports Farmers from Bolivia with its Dairy free, Corn Free, Nut free, Soy free pasta.

Ingrid Hirstin-Lazcano founded Andean Dream in 2006 after her husband Fernando Lazcano-Dunn introduced her to the struggles of the indigenous quinoa farmers in Bolivia. Fernando was serving as the Consul General of Bolivia in Los Angeles and introduced Ingrid to the farmers who, at the time, were living well below the poverty line.

AIming to provide help to these families, she developed quinoa cookies in her kitchen, and in June 2006, traveled to Bolivia to connect with a quinoa supplier who had obtained organic certification for 280 indigenous farming families. These families became her dedicated supplier for this superfood.

Now, Andean Dream also produces a line of gluten-free, allergen-friendly pasta that is making a name for themselves. A great option for consumers with special dietary demands, all the pastas are free from gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and nuts. All products are also non-GMO and Fair trade.

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Do Pizza-Making Robots and High-Tech Delivery Trucks Mean Dystopia — or More Dough?

While the restaurant and hospitality industry is people-driven, any way you slice it, you can't deny that technology is changing how we're approaching customer service — and Zume Pizza knows that innovation isn't just a pie in the sky.

And no, not merely because their pizza boxes are made of sustainably farmed sugarcane fiber and are 100-percent recyclable and compostable. This one-year-old Silicon Valley startup makes more than 200 pizzas a day, all thanks to its team of robots. (And about four to six people in the kitchen.) 

Each robot has a name and a specific job, according to CNN Tech. John and Pepe layer on the sauce, Marta spreads it evenly to near-circle perfection, and Bruno slides the pies into the oven. Perhaps this science is to be expected, considering this brand is just two miles away from Google headquarters, but that's not the most impressive part about Zume.

This concept is delivery-only, and their pizzas hit the streets with a method just as savvy as their kitchens: a high-tech delivery truck complete with 56 ovens programmed to bake the pies while they're traveling to customers, which prevents them from getting cold before hungry mouths can dig in.

The robot Vincenzo "mans" the responsibility of loading those pizzas into the truck's ovens. Two human employees, the driver and someone to assist with the boxing, are the only ones on staff when it comes to these deliveries.

Marta doing her magic. The Zume kitchen is open from 11am-11pm today. #flickofthewrist #saucin' 🍅

A video posted by Zume Pizza 🍕 (@zumepizza) on

Is this just the beginning of an "I, Robot"-esque dystopian plotline? Or could this be the beginning of a more profitable future for foodservice?

"We're a co-bot situation," Zume Pizza Founder and CEO Julia Collins said to CNBC. "There are humans and robots collaborating to make better food, to make more fulfilling jobs, and to make a more stable working environment for the folks that are working with us."

How do the presence of robots make these jobs more fulfilling? For one, the more repetitive and time-consuming tasks are taken care of first. Although this sparks a debate on whether or not this process takes away from the "artisan" touch of pizza-making, Zume robots saucing the pies and loading them into 800-degree ovens do so hundreds of times a day, increasing staff efficiency.

"That's a highly repetitive task and one that can be dangerous for human beings, so integrating robots into that makes a lot of sense," Collins said. 

These robots cost between $25,000 and $35,000, but the CEO asserts this initial cost is easily paid off, considering that these costs are much less than the salary and benefits of human employees.

This new model of replacing chefs with bots cuts labor costs, but Zume Pizza — which now only spends 14 percent of its earnings on payroll, compared to Domino's 30 percent — reinvests in the human employees who are a part of the company.

Zume's human workers, whether they are a programmer, delivery driver, or in the kitchen, all receive subsidized health, vision, and dental coverage. Zume will also contribute to employee education if those classes allow their team members to move to different sectors of the brand as their kitchen becomes more and more automated.

Tuesday night pizza cravings 😋🍕 #Sonrisa #VeggiePizza #DailyPizza

A video posted by Zume Pizza 🍕 (@zumepizza) on

Only about 50 people make up their team, a majority in the kitchen and in the truck, while the rest are in executive, management, or engineering positions. Fewer staff members also means better pay. Compared to bigger brands such as Domino's, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's whose delivery drivers only make $8 an hour plus tips, Zume Pizza delivery drivers make an average of $18 an hour, and Zume Pizza reaffirms to customers that deliveries are always cashless and free, "no tipping, please. :)"

Where else does Zume put its profits toward? With its creative menu that features fresh and gluten-free options, Zume Pizza is committed to using locally sourced ingredients. Due to the funds saved from automation, a barrier other concepts and fast casuals have faced, this robot-friendly restaurant is able to get its goods from organic farms in the area. As more and more restaurants become automated — and the reality is that artificial intelligence designed to handle routine human tasks can impact up to 60 percent of U.S. jobs — perhaps more will be inclined to buy local to a greater extent, as well.

"We hope to see more growth [in high-quality food], as an industry, as a result of these [automation] companies," Collins said to Quartz.

Justifiably, groups of people are concerned about job security once automation and technology gradually replace human labor. Artificial intelligence will surely spread to other areas in foodservice and other markets as time goes on. CNBC cited a Forrester report that stated about 6 percent of careers in customer service, trucking, and taxi services will be eliminated within five years by robots. 

But in Collins' eyes, she assures that the company will always need human employees for food preparation, recipe development, and response to customer feedback. She also said that the American workforce has constantly learned to adapt to increasing technology since the Industrial Revolution, and she wholeheartedly believes that the country will continue to do so, even with these major movements. 

"I think history will ultimately prove that we've created more jobs in automation," she said. Read More

How The Organic Coup is Cleaning Fast Food, One Chicken at a Time

While some consumers may believe fast food is a fast track to unhealthy eating, The Organic Coup hatched a new idea when it comes to chicken. This brand became the first USDA certified organic fast food restaurant, confirmed by their certifying agency, CCOF.

"We were shocked to find out we were first," founder Erica Welton said.

This concept was inspired by the team's years of working at Costco Wholesale, and the push for social change in foodservice became the foundation of the business. The name began as a typo for the word "coop," but "coup" was also fitting: coup is defined as a takeover, and that's exactly what this restaurant is doing — taking over the fast food industry with a new, organic attitude, proving that fast food has the potential to be good food.

"We want to serve the highest-quality product at a fair price," Welton said. "I'm also a mom of two young boys. [I'm] very passionate about what goes into my kids' food. Chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, and as a food buyer for Costco, learning more and more about what is getting put into our food — it was scary."

The Menu

Organic efforts could become complex, but The Organic Coup's operation is simple.

"We are not going to be a restaurant that has 50 items on the menu," Welton said.

The Coup Signature Sandwich is made up of chicken sourced locally from Mary's Free Range Organic Air-Chilled Chicken. The breasts are soaked in buttermilk, hand-breaded, and fried in coconut oil — honestly, the most expensive oil they could choose, but it is low in cholesterol and high in vitamin A. The menu also consists of a wrap and a bowl, and all buns are toasted and wraps are steamed to order. 

The restaurant also offers unique sauces, from spicy BBQ ranch, sesame ginger, mustard Vinaigrette, and more. Guests with a sweet tooth can also nibble on their organic popcorn, drizzled in caramel and with either white or dark chocolate. 

The Philosophy

More than about making fast food good food, The Organic Coup is about being good to the environment, too. Their chicken is air-chilled, a tactic used in Europe and Canada. Unlike the water chlorine bath method used in the United States, air-chilled facilities save 30,000 gallons of water every day.

The tables at the restaurant also have a touch of sustainability, as they are made from reclaimed wood (and were even built by Welton's father. All the restaurant's cleaning supplies and pest control are also organic certified. And to continue the education of their staff, The Organic Coup has a wall dedicated to going back to the basics, emphasizing the importance of non-GMO and hormone use.

"You know, I think it's very difficult to cheat Mother Nature, and in the end, there is always a price to pay. To disrupt such an old mentality on the way food was being brought to people just seemed like a lot of fun," Welton said.

Power to the chicken! Want to learn more about how this restaurant is rewriting fast food? Watch the full episode now.