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Culinary OS

The Dawn Of The Culinary Operating System

The enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is unbundling before our eyes as individual industries create their own operating systems that uniquely address the workflows and data structures of their business models. The traditional ERP software, a re-skinned accounting tool in most cases, was an incredible development in the digitization of business, but as our world demands more efficiency and data-forward operations, the one-size-fits-all model no longer works.

For the food industry, traditional ERPs can’t seem to wrap their heads around the more fuzzy elements of food production. Shelf-life, trim, waste, the transformation of food, episodic production workflows—we need our own system, just for us.

We built Galley on the premise that food organizations need a dedicated system designed for culinary—the culinary operating system. This new class of software for food businesses is the basis for daily operations and business decision-making, and is far better suited for foodservice providers, restaurants, caterers, prepared meal services, and other types of food organizations.

There’s a lot of confusion in the food world, however, about what constitutes a culinary operating system. Especially in the restaurant industry, there exist many companies trying to build all-in-one management systems, which can obscure the categories of tools for food organizations that are not restaurant-centered. It’s worth it to take the time to define the culinary operating system, and draw some lines about what it is, and what it’s not.

A Practical Definition for the Culinary Operating System

Let’s define the culinary operating system simply, then build on it.

The culinary operating system (COS) is a category of software that captures, contains, and manages the back-end culinary data and processes that make a food business run smoothly.

Much like an enterprise resource planning system for accounting or manufacturing businesses, a culinary operating system is the single source of truth where core business data is captured and maintained, and the foundation on which business decisions are made. The workflows that a COS would support include, but are not limited to:

  • Recipe R&D
  • Menu planning
  • Food costing and reporting
  • Inventory and purchasing
  • Vendor management
  • Food metadata (allergens, nutrition)
  • Kitchen task management

These core culinary processes exist in all kinds of food organizations, crossing business models. A COS isn’t a restaurant tech, a catering tech, or commissary tech. It’s the layer below that, where use cases for different business models are built upon using the culinary data from the COS. This means, as food businesses blur the lines between business models, there remains the underlying culinary data that’s clean and transferable across business concepts (restaurant, pop-up caterer, virtual brand) that gives organizations clarity into their core processes, agility to explore new opportunities with confidence, and operational resiliency to withstand disruptions.

A COS is not likely to be concerned with managing aspects of a food business that are not directly linked to culinary operations, like a point of sale or online ordering platform for restaurants, or managing employee scheduling or payroll. However, a COS benefits from integrating with these other workflows and tools, like receiving sales data that helps adjust inventory levels, or sending financial data about the value of current inventory to a finance system.

The Culinary Operating System is an ERP, and It’s Not

The comparison to an ERP system, while not wrong, is incomplete. In our conversations internally, we’ve realized that there is another comparison that adds clarity into how a COS should exist within a food organization’s tech stack: the customer data platform (CDP). 

A customer data platform is a centralized system that collects, unifies and stores customer data from various sources to create unified profiles for individual customers. It then provides tools to analyze that customer data and activate it across marketing channels. A restaurant’s marketing team, POS software, and loyalty platform can all read and write data to the CDP, so each team and technology operates with one source of data.

A CDP is analogous to a culinary operating system in that a COS serves as a centralized system that collects and unifies data from various sources within a culinary operation, such as inventory, purchasing, recipes, menus, labor data, etc. Just like a CDP is the underlying data layer for customer data that can be used in other tools, the COS is the underlying culinary data layer that can be analyzed and activated in third-party tools.

Unlike closed systems that house all management activities within the software, a COS is an open system that sits above all your tools and processes, making the data accessible. 

In other words, if you have a culinary operating system, you are not locked into completing management tasks within that specific software—you are able to build on top of the COS. This means that an organization may use additional tools to manage their processes, like third-party nutrition software or a POS system, but every additional tool or platform pulls from and adds to the core data contained in the COS.

The Dawn of the Culinary Operating System

The culinary operating system is a data and management layer that will exist in every growing food organization in the near future. If you buy, transform, and sell food, a COS unlocks a unified view of your data, better collaboration among teams, and new levels of efficiency that are required to compete successfully in our era of breakneck margins. 

This is our vision for Galley. We’re building the first open culinary operating system that’s designed just for the food industry, but segment-agnostic. Leaders in restaurants, catering, non-commercial foodservice, and prepared meals use Galley to master their operation and future-proof their tech stack.

Want to talk to a COS expert to understand how this new software class can help you make sense of and optimize your culinary operation? Reach out right here.

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