Twitter invited a robot chef named Sally to cook for employees in its cafeteria

Key Points
  • Twitter periodically invites guest chefs to cook for its employees. This week, it invited a robot.
  • Chowbotics salad-making robot, the Sally, will soon be used in hotels, convenience stores and corporate cafeterias.
Chowbotics' executive chef Charlie Ayers and CEO Deepak Sekar

Twitter invites guest chefs to cook at the company cafeteria periodically. The latest was a salad-making robot called Sally from Chowbotics, a food automation startup.

Twitter booked Sally rather than a human on Tuesday in recognition of the company's Hack Week for engineers, according to the company's global food program manager, John Dickman.

Twitter typically books local chefs who come in to promote cookbooks, restaurants or to share a taste of their signature recipes. Past guests have included vaunted chocolatier Jacques Torres, and culinary talents from the San Francisco Bay Area including Richie Nakano, Tomoharu Shono and Tanya Holland.

Sally was the first robot to make the cut.

Sally isn't a droid that chops ingredients Benihana-style with knives on its arms. Instead, it looks like a souped-up refrigerator with a clear window where users can see cartridges full of prepped, fresh ingredients. Sally dispenses these in precise quantities to match a user's custom order. The system features a touchscreen display where users swipe through recipes, but they can also opt to build their own salad.

Recipes in the Sally system were created by Chowbotics' executive chef, Chef Charlie Ayers, who is best-known for being Google's first executive chef, and chef de cuisine, Kelly Olazar.

Sekar said he's hoping that Twitter and other large tech employers will become customers in the near-future. But today Chowbotics only has a few of its beta units out with pilot customers.

"We think about the Sally as a great thing for company cafeterias which usually shut down after lunch and do not offer dinner. This is a way to give employees who work late a healthy option," Sekar said.

The start-up has contracts to install Sally robots in some convenience stores, hotels and at a few other large tech employers' cafeterias already. But the CEO did not yet have permission to name Chowbotics' clients publicly.

As CNBC recently reported, companies in and beyond Silicon Valley now spend significantly on food as a work perk. The perk has proven an employee retention and recruiting tool to many.