Too Many Ghost Kitchens? Now They’re Using AI-Generated Food Too


Thought DoorDash is a nightmare thanks to a combination of ghost kitchens spam and unreliable dashers? It’s about to get worse thanks to AI.

Ghost kitchens is a phenomenon that appeared thanks to apps like Door Dash, Uber Eats and Grubhub, so-called “virtual restaurants” that don’t have a physical place to receive customers. Initially, ghost kitchens were a great way for food providers to get established and find a customer base. Then, they quickly devolved into situations where you can have a single restaurant making dozens of profiles, each one with a niche like “ribs” or “pizza”, all without disclosing to the customer who they actually are.

Now, they’re taking the spam one step further using AI-generated food to populate listings on Doordash and Grubhub.

A report from 404Media explains why some food listings just look kind of…off. Could you spot an AI-generated picture of food like this one?

“There’s nothing immediately and obviously fake or offensive about the dish, but look closely and the pasta’s credibility begins to fall apart. Note how the cutting board near the top left merges with the table under the basil leaves, how the tubular penne openings have strange edges, and how the penne’s circumferences are widely inconsistent. Most of all, note the five-pronged fork to the right and how the gaps between these prongs somehow erase the cutting board underneath. Even if the pasta didn’t have any of these impossible physical traits, the image still has the overall too smooth quality that many AI-generated images share.

Strangely, this dish specifically is not available on Pasta Lover’s DoorDash menu, which includes many far stranger looking items.

There’s a Shrimp Scampi featuring a shrimp with two tails, a Breaded Shrimp Parmigiana Pasta featuring unidentifiable breaded objects (no shrimp), and some Frutti Di Mare (Seafood) with Marinara Sauce that has some identifiable clams and calamari, but also a lot of creatures that look like they came from the mind of H.R. Giger.”

Be warned, the images 404Media posted become creepier the more you stare at them. It’s basically just like what ghost kitchens have become, if you look more closely.

“Pasta Lovers’s food actually comes from Tony’s Pizzeria in North Brooklyn, which also fulfills orders for a cheesesteak brand called Philly Cheez, a hero sandwich brand called Hero Mania, and a wrap brand called That’s A Wrap,” reports 404 about one of the restaurants who use the Stable Diffusion-generated images.

As they say in fancy places, bon apple tea!

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