Chipotle Is Testing Out a New Way to Make Tortilla Chips

But how do they compare to the original technique?

Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Chipotle is constantly testing out creative innovations to take its fast casual Mexican concept to new heights, and now, that strategy includes a disembodied robot arm. The burrito slinger recently announced the introduction of its AI kitchen assistant—appropriately dubbed "Chippy"—in an attempt to replicate the flavor, texture, and crunch of its classic tortilla chips.

In partnership with Miso Robots, Chipotle has trained Chippy to create the "exact recipe" with all the same ingredients, including corn masa flour, water, and sunflower oil. They aren't, however, shooting for perfection. Like Chipotle's human staffers, Chippy makes each bite a little different.

"Everyone loves finding a chip with a little more salt or an extra hint of lime," Chipotle's Vice President of Culinary Nevielle Panthaky said in a statement. "To ensure we didn't lose the humanity behind our culinary experience, we trained Chippy extensively to ensure the output mirrored our current product, delivering some subtle variations in flavor that our guests expect."

Photo courtesy of Chipotle

Chippy is currently being tested at the chain's innovation hub in Irvine, California, but with plans for further expansion. According to the statement, the technology will be integrated at an unnamed Southern California outpost while an even broader rollout will be determined by employee and customer feedback thereafter.

"We asked our team members if we could find a better mousetrap for anything in the restaurant, and what that would be, and up at the top of the list was a better way to make chips," Chief Technology Officer Curt Garner told CNBC. "We approached it from a lens of what would make it easier, more fun, more rewarding, and how do we take away some of the tasks that team members don't like and give them more time to focus on the tasks that they do."  

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Megan Schaltegger is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist.