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IBM Creates Watson Cooking App that Generates 'Millions' of Ingredient Combinations

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Photo: ibm_research_zurich/Flickr

Tech company IBM has teamed up with Bon Appetit to release a recipe generating app called Chef Watson with Bon Appetit. According to the announcement from IBM, all users have to do is input a few criterion to give Watson "guidance on what ingredients to use or avoid, as well as what styles of cooking seem interesting." The app then generates "millions" of ingredient combinations and picks around 100 variations that "it thinks will surprise and delight the human palate." Watson also offers up cooking instructions and ingredient amounts.

Bon Appetit explains that the app "relies on the science of complementary flavor compounds" to come up with the recipes. IBM notes that to do this, engineers taught the app to "glean insights" about cooking styles and how ingredients tend to be paired from the magazine's 9,000 recipes. The app then combines that with "information about food chemistry, hedonic psychophysics (the psychology of what people find pleasant and unpleasant), and regional and ethnic cooking." Slate points out, however, that the recipes that Watson generates cannot take into account variability in factors like the size, texture, and temperature of ingredients.

The app is based on technology that IBM has been developing for over two years. Watson was first introduced as part of a high-tech food truck in February that serves computer-generated recipes. The truck also made an appearance at SXSW where it featured chefs Michael Laiskonis and James Briscione executing the recipes created by the food-truck's computer. The recipes spit out by the computer were unconventional to say the least, in line with what app users can expect. Among the dishes the chefs served was an Austrian chocolate burrito featuring apricots and edamame and a ceviche made with snapper and fennel. Bon Appetit is currently looking for beta testers for the app and Slate notes that there are plans to eventually release a version for the general public.

· IBM Allies with Bon Appétit to Show Watson's Creative Side [A Smarter Planet]
· Someone's in the Kitchen With Watson [Slate]
· How IBM's Chef Watson Actually Works [Bon Appetit]
· A Demo of IBM's Crazy Recipe-Generating Computer [-E-]
· All Tech Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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