Since IBM released Watson to much fanfare on Jeopardy some years ago, they have been trying to find ways to commercialize the underlying technology. The ingredients suggestion application is a way to show how you can use that intelligence in creative ways, in this case with food to come up with interesting combinations of ingredients, even a professional chef might not have considered.
They called it Cognitive Cooking, and the idea according to Chef Michael Laiskonis from the Institute of Culinary Education who worked with IBM on the project was to find ingredients that go well together because Watson understands chemically how different tastes fit together, something that chefs might not know, and this allows the chefs to create a recipe based on this list that Watson comes up with.
It’s important to note that this program doesn’t actually build the final recipe. That’s up to the chef, Laiskonis explained to me. It’s a bit like looking in your refridgerator and cupboard and seeing what you have and making something based on what you have in the house, but instead, it’s a list of any ingredients that might go together based on a series of choices the chef makes.
For instance, they may choose seafood and a couple of different ethnicities and as they make these choices, Watson begins to pull together a list of ingredients that match these choices.
The system as constructed made use of all kinds of technology from social media to cloud to big data to come up with the ingredients and ideas for the recipe of the day.
The team from ICE used social media to get people at SXSW to vote on a particular type of food, then the team put Cognitive Cooking application to work to come up with the list of ingredients, and finally the team came up with an idea that matched the requested food type, but not necessarily in the way you might have imagined.
For instance, one day they created fish and chips, but it wasn’t like anything you would find on Cape Cod in the summer. Instead it was a Caribbean Snapper Fish and Chips. Having sampled it, I can tell you it was delicious, but there wasn’t a hint of batter or french fries to be found.
The IBM and ICE team set up a food truck near the convention center in Austin where South by Southwest was being held. Anyone could walk up to the truck and sample the day’s offerings for free.
It’s one way IBM is putting Watson’s underlying technology to use, while giving a concrete example of how others might use the platform to build different applications that can transform a business in the same way, the Cognitive Cooking application was changing the way chefs typically come up with recipes.
Chef Laiskonis said, this program would live in a chef’s office where he or she could come up with new recipes for the restaurant and the Cognitive Cooking application could stimulate new and interesting ideas.
Photo Credits: Copyright IBM Research. All rights reserved
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.