So it’s been a long day at work and there’s only a handful of random stuff in the fridge—let’s say pork and some tomatoes. But after a long day, sometimes thinking about how to put those together into an edible dish is just too much.
So what to do? Why not ask a “Jeopardy!” champion what you should make for dinner?
IBM’s Watson—the thinking, learning computer that made its public debut by crushing two former champions on the television game show in 2011—is now available through a cloud-based app to help you figure out what to make.
It’s simple: You tell Watson what ingredients you want to use, and which ones you don’t. You pick a type of dish—say, a bolognese. And you pick a style, like Italian, Chinese, or, just for example, German.
Watson then takes the info you've fed him and, using his knowledge gleaned from more than 9,000 Bon Appetit recipes, invents a brand-new recipe for you to try out in your kitchen. In addition, he taps into data provided by food experts from the New York Institute for Culinary Education, who evaluated thousands of ingredients according to their aromas and other properties.
It’s like having your own personal chef in the cloud—one so advanced it doesn't even need to taste the recipes it invents. You can even choose just how inventive you want the computer to get with a 100-point slider that ranges from “keep it classic” to “surprise me.”
“This is the power of Watson,” said Jochen Burkhardt, senior IT architect for IBM’s Smarter Products and Services Innovation division. Though he did admit that “it can get weird” if you give Watson free reign.
With the ingredients and info above, Watson provided a complete recipe for “German Pork Baby Tomatoes Bolognese” in just seconds. It was a choice from the middle of the 100-point slider.
After dinner, you can tell Watson what you thought of his recipe and he’ll continue to learn from the feedback. The next time someone asks for a recipe, he can factor in that information, too.
Burkhardt said Watson can also help in finding substitute ingredients to complete recipes. For example, he said he came home one night and decided he wanted pancakes, but there was no milk or eggs in the fridge. He fed that information to Watson and the computer returned with a recipe involving lentils that he said was “not bad,” if a little dry.
Burkhardt, who is German, also said Watson helps him and his Brazilian girlfriend find ways to combine the cuisines from their home countries.
Chef Watson is presently available on an invite-only beta basis. It's the second major task the computer has tackled since its Jeopardy appearance. The first was for medical professionals, though, making Chef Watson its first semi-public demo.
Along with Chef Watson, the IBM booth at CES 2015 played host to a new prototype range from Miele, a brand better known for its sleek (and pricey) cooktops and wall ovens. The new 48-inch Dual Fuel Range HR 1956 features a three-door concept that includes two ovens, six gas burners, a griddle, and a warming drawer.
The range can work in tandem with Chef Watson, who will send his recipes right to the appliance so it knows what temperatures and cooking times you need. It will even tell you when to turn your meat or when you need to add a new ingredient.
To be honest, it’s pretty freakin' cool.