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IBM’s Chef Watson: Using Data to Delight Your Tastebuds

IBM’s Watson has garnered considerable attention since the computer first appeared in Jeopardy! in 2011. Indeed, Watson has made progress in all industry verticals – from helping with cancer care and research, to assisting wealth management professionals analyze their customer’s financial situations. In a short space of time, this supercomputer has also shrunk from a large collection of servers “the size of a room”, to a piece of software the size of “a few pizza boxes”.

But as we began to uncover in our piece about Watson’s first BBQ sauce, Watson is not just an incredibly compact and capable piece of software – it is also a computer with an amazingly “creative” touch.

On Monday, IBM announced that it has partnered with Bon Appetit to build a cooking app that will combine Watson’s data capabilities (or, “Chef Watson,” as it has been dubbed for this endeavor) with the magazine’s almost fifty years of food publishing.

Tamarind Cabbage Slaw With Crispy Onions

Chef Watson’s role is to memorize Bon Appetit’s 9000 recipes and, when prompted by a user’s choice of ingredients, kind of dish (risotto or empanada), and preferred “style”
(Indian or Provencal), to return its own variation on the Bon Appetit recipes it has stored as
its internal reference. In so doing, Watson “learns” from the Bon Appetit chefs – the ingredients, quantities, and steps they take to prepare great meals  – to then come up with its own unexpected variations, like adding marjoram to a classic berry cobbler.

Blackberry-Cherry Cobbler with Honey Whipped Cream

Of course, Chef Watson is not looking to replace any experimentation that a home cook might naturally employ while leafing through a magazine or recipe book. As Bon Appétit’s Digital Director Stacey Rivera explains, “If you look at our website, that’s what our core user likes to do. People already use a recipe and change things…What Watson does is give you inspiration.”

“At Bon Appetit, we were curious to see what Watson could discover that was never previously considered, helping unlock a chef’s creativity,” said editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport. “We see the intersection of technology and food sparking new thinking and creativity not only in our own test kitchen, but in our reader’s homes as well.”

Currently, Chef Watson is in limited beta but users can register to get the app with Bon Appetit.

Read more here

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(Image Credit: IBM Research)

 

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