Are computer-generated dishes the future of culinary arts?

Those who take culinary arts programs online probably are wondering what the future of food will bring. NASA’s freeze-dried dishes that are often covered in the media are one indication of how food will be in space, but what about here on earth? IBM’s cognitive computing project recently produced computer-generated recipes that chefs turned into actual dishes.

According to Eater, the IBM food truck rolled into the Las Vegas area for the computer company’s Pulse conference. The task of the chefs on board was to make the dishes that were developed by the computer model. Some of the mashups made were Baltic Apple Pie, Austrian Chocolate Burrito, Caymanian Plantain Dessert and Swiss-Thai Asparagus Quiche. The goal of the computer program was to make entirely new recipes.

Insight into the recipe generator
Chefs can queue up recipes by adding their dish selection into the IBM cognitive system. Using cloud-based analytics, the computer gathers contextual information on how to make the basic form of the dish. For example, it would learn the ingredients of a burrito and how to put it together.

Next the cognitive system considers the thousands of different ingredients that could be added to the recipe, while a normal chef would think of only a handful. In a process called chemoinformatics, the flavor profiles are turned into molecular formulas. And a hedonic psychophysics model is used to discover how they each measure up to human taste. Then each recipe is ranked according to its wow factor. Finally, the ingredient list is compiled by the computer and sent to chefs.

When man (or woman) and machine team up
The ideology behind the cognitive computer is to have both man and machine working in harmony to build these dishes. The system starts with an idea sparked by a chef and continues using human-based resources to develop a winning dish.

A writer from The New Yorker dubbed the computer the Gastronomist, and criticized the system for not building a detailed recipe, but rather a list of ingredients. While this may mean the computer program isn’t ready for the home cook, it can be utilized by those with a strong culinary background. A chef can use the list of ingredients as a source of inspiration and make a plan of action. All it takes is a working knowledge of the taste of each food item and how they behave once cooked. So if you are taking culinary courses online, look out for this innovative computer program in the future.

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